RJ Barrett has been slightly overlooked when it comes to the stars from the 2019 NBA Draft class. Players like Zion Williamson and Ja Morant have been garnering all the headlines over the last few years. But Barrett has slowly evolved into one of the most solid young players in the league.
This season, Barrett mentioned that he wanted to make an All-Defensive team by the end of the season. While his offensive game has improved and become more complete, he wants to turn his attention to the defensive end of the game.
Julius Randle has come out prior to the season and showed confidence in RJ Barrett, saying that he is going to be a really good player this season. Perhaps this speaks to the motivation and hard work Barrett has put up going into the new season.
But it appears his defensive goals have got him playing some tough defense. In fact, players who have been guarded by RJ Barrett in the opening few games of the season have only been able to make 26.9% of their attempted shots.
This includes players like Jayson Tatum, who went 3-16 when guarded by Barrett, and Jaylen Brown, who went 2-7 when being guarded by Barrett. Clearly, RJ is locked in on the defensive side of the game and is becoming a key part of head coach Tom Thibodeau's defensive schemes.
If Barrett can elevate his defensive performances, it will allow the Knicks to become the best defensive team in the NBA for the second season in a row. And Barrett will be a big part of that change.
With players like Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson performing at the highest level when it comes to the defensive side of the game, Barrett's defensive improvement will be a welcome change for the Knicks.