The New York Knicks improved to 2-1 on the season after defeating the Orlando Magic by the score of 115-102.
While the Knicks are off to a good start by winning two games in a row at home, which can be credited to the team’s desire to play faster on offense and the depth of the roster, one player, in particular, isn’t having the strongest start to the season.
RJ Barrett has struggled through the first three games of the season, specifically with his efficiency and shooting. So far, Barrett is shooting only 34 percent from the field and 18 percent from three-point range.
The rising star has attempted 16 3-point shots and has only made three on the season. Out of the 5.3 3-point shots attempted per game, Barrett has only made an average of one. On his two-point shots, the Canadian forward has also had his struggles. Barrett has made only 41 percent of his shots both near the basket and the mid-range, for which he has only made 15 out of 36 field goals.
Barrett did show some shooting the ball during the second half of the game against the Orlando Magic, finishing with 20 points and making three out of his seven 3-pointers. Though the season just began, Barrett has had early season struggles in prior years.
Jalen Brunson credited Barrett for finishing strong against the Magic during the second half after struggling with his shot in the first half, scoring only two points.
“One thing that may go unnoticed is how RJ responded,” Brunson said, who has been credited by his teammates for his leadership. “Just two points in the first half, very uncharacteristic. Him staying patient, finding ways to affect the game, eventually it comes back around. He had a big game in the second half.”
An area where Barrett has improved so far this season is his percentage at the free-throw line. He is shooting 83 percent from the charity stripe and has made 10 out of 12 attempted free throws.
Barrett has season averages of 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He averaged 20 points per game last season.
Teammates Encouraging Barrett
Encouragement has been a theme for this Knicks team. Whether that be Cam Reddish getting encouragement to be aggressive or veteran Derrick Rose encouraging the entire team, players on the roster want to see everyone succeed.
That’s no different with RJ Barrett, who was asked by Rebecca Harlowe of MSG Networks during postgame comments what it means for his teammates to encourage him.
“It says a lot about our team. I struggled in the first half but the whole team stuck with me,” Barrett said following his performance of scoring 16 points in the second half. “Found me in the second half and I was able to deliver. That just kind of shows how our team is, we care about each other and we try to get everybody involved.”
Jalen Brunson continued his impactful play at the point guard position and scored a season-high of 21 points while also shooting 50 percent from the field. Barrett has credited the point guard for making big plays.
“He’s just poised, especially in those tough times he made some huge shots that kept us in the lead.”
Grimes Ruled Out
Quentin Grimes will not play against the Charlotte Hornets on October 26. Tom Thibodeau mentioned in a post-practice press conference that the guard participated in some drills, but was not yet ready to get back on the court.
Grimes hasn’t played in competitive action since the last preseason against the Washington Wizards on October 14, in which he played 16 minutes and was scoreless.
The Houston native is still bothered by a sore left foot, which has been an issue for Grimes since the second day of training camp, where he was seen wearing a walking boot.
With Grimes continuously being out for games, that leaves more opportunity for forward Cam Reddish, who is averaging 11.7 points and shooting 44 percent from three-point range.
Teamwork means understanding that a good player can also have an off night. So giving him a chance to score will encourage him to recover easily. Like the play done by Brunson and Obi who passed the ball back to RJ who then scored the basket. A beautiful sight of teamwork indeed!