Upon his selection at No. 3 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett was immediately tabbed a developmental project with a high offensive ceiling.
The 20-year-old’s shot selection has long been questioned, and it still is, during his second year in the league. But what has become even more of an issue over the Knicks’ first 12 games of the season is his efficiency.
Barrett is shooting just 37.2% from the field this season and a minuscule 18.5% from three-point range — noticeable drops from marks of 40.2% from the field and 32% from three during his rookie campaign last year.
On the surface, it would appear that Barrett is just not choosing the right opportunities to shoot, or forcing it up in hopes to provide a semblance of consistent support for Julius Randle.
The statistics prove otherwise, though, as the shots simply aren’t falling for him.
When the nearest defender is between four and six feet away — which is classified by NBA official stats as an open shot — Barrett has made just 10-of-43 attempts (23.3%), which accounts for 21.9% of his attempts.
Those are good shots to take, especially for a young player that has the expectation of developing into an offensive leader.
Of those 43 attempts, 16 of them have come from beyond the arc where he’s hit just twice.
His struggles have been the headliner of a Knicks team that ranks 21st in the NBA in field-goal percentage and 20th in three-point percentage.
Barrett, though, continues to get the green light to keep firing as head coach Tom Thibodeau works on getting the most out of the young talent and his surrounding roster.
“I think it will eventually come. I think as long as he’s taking [the] right ones, it’s a big part of the NBA game — understanding the value of those shots. But there are a lot of other things he does well,” Thibodeau said earlier this week. “Putting it on the floor, drawing more than one defender, spraying it out, finishing in the restricted, drawing fouls, things that can get you high-value shots. We want him to play an all-around game. He can post the ball, he can drive the ball well. And I think as time goes on, he’ll shoot the ball better and better from the perimeter.”