After working out for the Knicks on Monday, R.J. Barrett told reporters that he will not meet with any other teams and declared that he hopes New York will select him with the third overall pick in the NBA draft on June 20.
Well then! Barrett, a presumptive top three pick this year, has made clear that he does not plan to meet with anyone besides the Knicks, including the Memphis Grizzlies, holders of the second pick. Meanwhile, barring something outrageous, his Duke comrade Zion Williamson will be selected first by the New Orleans Pelicans.
Thus, Barrett will be there for the Knicks to take at number three if they so desire, and based on his comments coming out of Monday’s workout, he’s hoping that is indeed what Scott Perry, Steve Mills and the rest of the gang desire.
“This is the place I want to be, so I hope they draft me,” Barrett said.
It wasn’t just one little comment either. Barrett made clear that New York is where he would like to play, saying positive things about Madison Square Garden (“I love playing in the Garden”), David Fizdale (“he’s a great guy, I love him”), Kevin Knox (“he’s cool”), and more.
For the uninitiated, Barrett is a 6’7” wing who could probably play multiple positions in the NBA. He’s currently 18-years-old, but will turn 19 in just a few days. He led the ACC in scoring during his lone season at Duke, posting 23 points per game, while adding 4 assists and nearly 8 rebounds. He shot 45% from the field, although his three point (30.8%) and free throw (66.5%) numbers could use an upgrade. He is the godson of NBA legend Steve Nash.
Barrett was the consensus top prospect prior to this season, and the only reason he will likely fall to number three is because Williamson and Morant also had amazing years. He hails from Toronto, Canada, and has been fantastic for the Canadian national team.
Additionally, Barrett appears impressively mature, saying on ESPN’s First Take recently that he feels ready for New York, and isn’t scared of the potential scrutiny that would come with playing in the Big Apple.
“The biggest thing is my confidence,” he said. “I’m built for this.”
"Biggest thing is my confidence. I'm built for this. I've been workin' since I was young, so I'm not really worried."— First Take (@FirstTake) June 6, 2019
— @RjBarrett6 to @stephenasmith on potentially heading to New York pic.twitter.com/YMhA3ojkSI
Before we go any further, let’s just make sure we’re all on the same page. Barrett, who in other years may have been drafted number one overall, is explicitly saying that his preference is for the Knicks to take him. He wants to join the Knicks, a team coming off the worst season in franchise history, with a roster currently featuring other extremely young players, including Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier, and Dennis Smith Jr.
The dream for any NBA team is to build sustainable success, and there’s no better way to do so than drafting talented pieces and allowing them to grow together. However, nothing is ever easy with the Knicks, and despite Barrett’s proclamation, there’s no guarantee the Knicks will do something as simple as draft the best available player.
No, the Knicks may be trying to pry Anthony Davis away from the Pelicans, and there’s no question that any such deal would have to include the third pick, not to mention most of the above-named young Knicks, possibly excluding Ntilikina, who for whatever reason seems likely to be traded in a separate deal for a bag of basketballs or something.
Barrett has eyes and ears of course, so he knows all this, and was careful to make clear that he would ultimately be happy playing anywhere in the NBA.
“I can’t control what happens,” he said.
The Knicks can control what happens, though. And they should probably draft Barrett, especially since the dream of Kevin Durant coming to town may have been shattered by the reality that KD probably has a torn achilles.
However, at the risk of sounding repetitive, the Knicks can control what happens.
The draft is only a little over a week away. If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to make sure your fridges are fully stocked with alcoholic beverages.