Home » Knicks forward RJ Barrett snaps slump, but concerns remain

Knicks forward RJ Barrett snaps slump, but concerns remain

by TLD

The 2022 season has not been what the Knicks or RJ Barrett had envisioned when the former third overall selection signed a four-year, $120 million extension in August. While his recent poor stretch may be an outlier, questions about Barrett’s efficiency and ceiling remain. 

In a 129-119 win against the Thunder on Monday night, Barrett posted 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting, including a sizzling 5-for-5 start.

The previous five games, however, the Knicks’ forward averaged 12.6 points on 26.3% from the field while reportedly battling an undisclosed illness. The stretch included a 2-for-25 skid from downtown.

Nine days ago, the 22-year-old was benched in the second half of a 145-135 loss to Oklahoma City. 

Barrett had a career year last season, averaging 20 points, 5.8 rebounds and three assists, but advanced statistics reveal concerns.

Per John Hollinger’s NBA Player Statistics, Barrett’s 2021-22 player efficiency rating (PER) of 13.72 ranked 195th of 375 qualified players. (The higher the number, the more efficient the player.)

For comparison, a league average PER is 15. Barrett’s PER was seventh highest on a Knicks team that went 37-45 last season. 

After Barrett reportedly was offered in a trade package for Donovan Mitchell, the Knicks (9-9) pivoted to extending him once talks fell through. The team believed that pairing him with free-agent signee Jalen Brunson would elevate Barrett to a perennial All-Star caliber player.

While Brunson (20.8 ppg, 6.7 apg) has lived up to his $104 million price tag, the new addition has not paid dividends for Barrett. 

Through 18 games, Barrett’s PER has dropped to 11.42 — 252nd of 334 qualifying players. His per-game slashes from a year ago have dipped to 18.3/ 5.1/ 2.9. 

Barrett’s three-point percentage has fallen each season since his 40% shooting in his second season. He shot 34.2% from behind the arc last season and is shooting an abysmal 27.3% this season.

With an extended break and a home matchup on deck Friday against Damian Lillard-less Portland, Barrett will have a favorable chance to build off Monday night’s promising performance.

If Barrett reverts to his most recent form, however, the Knicks could have a major issue on their hands.

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