Something I like to do when the New York Knicks season ends is look at different players' stats to see what areas they improved or regressed in. You have your standard categories of field goal, three-point, and free-throw percentages but there are closer ways to look at it.
The first player I wanted to look at was RJ Barrett. Barrett had an up-and-down fourth year filled with high highs and very low lows.
RJ really saw his percentages from nine feet and in improve. From less than five feet, he hit 274-476 (57.6%) field goals and 5-9 feet saw him make 86/214 (40.2%). In 2021-22, he hit 255-488 (52.3%) from less than five feet and 53-170 (31.2%) from 5-9 feet. I found this increase important, due to Barrett not being a reliable outside shooter.
This also saw his restricted area scoring raise to 59.0% from 54.9% last season and non-restricted area went up to 39.7% from 30.7%.
What was encouraging to see was in 2021-22, RJ had his shot blocked 76 times when attempting a shot from less than five feet. In 2022-23, he only had his shot blocked 53 times in the same area.
When it came to layups, Barrett attempted 27 fewer this season than last but shot 54.8%, a 7.9% increase. Cutting layups took a big jump this season where he hit 16-20 (80.0%) attempts. Last season, he hit 4-8 (50.0%) attempts and it is clear he is effective at cutting to the basket and it should be implemented more.
Driving layups is also an area he improved in. The fourth-year forward hit 132-248 (53.2%) driving layups this regular season, he only hit 115-261 (44.1%) last season. Barrett becoming more effective as a driver can really open up the floor for not only him but his teammates.
In the playoffs, RJ saw some of these categories decrease percentage-wise but was still aggressive in attacking the basket.
Game Four against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round One is a prime example of RJ Barrett's potential. Barrett was masterful at attacking the basket in this game, scoring 26 points and helping the Knicks to a 3-1 series lead:
After highlighting the good with Barrett like improving around the basket, there are areas that need major work.
To put it lightly, his shooting needs a lot of work. Let’s take a look at how RJ shot from ten feet and beyond this regular season.
10-14 feet: 21-66 (31.8%)
15-19 feet: 8-28 (28.6%)
20-24 feet: 60-186 (32.3%)
25-29 feet: 61-204 (29.9%)
Above the Break 3: 82-271 (30.3%)
Right Corner 3: 27-74 (36.5%)
Left Corner 3: 10-41 (24.4%)
He also shot 235-680 (34.6%) on total jump shots and 33-102 (32.4%) on driving floating bank jump shots.
These are areas Barrett is definitely going to need to improve in greatly. Even if he can become a somewhat competent consistent shooter, there’s no reason he can’t average around 20-25+ points per game. He managed to average 19.6 points per game on this poor and inefficient shooting.
RJ Barrett got a lot of (worthy) flak at times this season for his play but there is so much potential for the soon to be 23 year old. He had the best offensive rating of his career and averaged a career-high 10.1 points in the paint.
If he continues to attack the basket and work on shooting, I believe we’re looking at someone who can be a multi-year All-Star level player. Patience.
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