The Knicks’ RJ Barrett heats up after another slow start


New reality show on MSG next summer.


An avid trainer and one-man has been locked in an apartment with no connection to the outside world. Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.

They don’t eat food. Twice a day, they snack on the gum-piercing granule taste. They don’t sleep. Don’t rest when you haven’t finished a solid pressure defense from the strong side yet. Reviewers might call the show derivative, but that’s only because they didn’t watch it a second time to check out the movie.

This is the playing field New York Knicks Coach Tom Thibodeau to one of his best young players, RJ Barrett.

Barrett started the season slowly, not only missing shots, but he struggled to fit into the Knicks offense. However, throughout the start when the 22-year-old slicked more iron than nylon, Thibodeau stuck to a firm belief: Barrett has stepped before, and he will do so again.

Barrett got off to a slow start last season, which he accepted, and which he accepted. For weeks, Thibodeau insisted that the former No. 3 overall pick would turn it around again. In December, the coach was proven right. But that doesn’t mean he wants the habit to continue.

Alas, brace yourselves for the most amazing TV you’ve seen since “Joe Millionaire.”

“He’ll stay with me next summer, so he’ll be fine,” said Thibodeau, smiling. “No summer.”

The unfortunate truth is that the Barrett-Thibodeau series of friends may be dead before it even begins.

“We’ll watch the movie all day,” Barrett laughed.

But there’s more: Whether Barrett is spending the summer of 2023 living his best life or on Thibodeau’s couch staring at a grainy video of This is Gibson Pick and roll coverage, this upcoming season will not be like the one he just experienced.

There is a rule of thumb for becoming a professional athlete: You can’t play the children’s game whenever you want. Men who feel healthy sit outside so they can rejuvenate their bodies. They have training schedules throughout the summer specific to their needs. Then there is the business side of it all.

When a player anticipates a new contract, whether through free agency or an extension, he does his best to stay in shape but also avoid situations where he might get injured — like playing in an actual basketball game, for example. Normally that leaves the men plenty of time to get their rhythm back for the regular season. They go to the gym but avoid pick-up games until free agency. Once they sign their new deals, they have three months off the ball before the regular season begins.

Barrett’s experience was different.

See, Barrett was eligible for the big extension as of June 30th, which he ended up signing, but not until September, in part because the Knicks persisted Donovan Mitchell. And so, Barrett has trekked through the summer working out as best he could. It’s just that “how could he” didn’t include malicious amounts of little basketball.

He attended a camp with the Canadian national team, but did not participate in many basketball activities. Instead, absorb jargon, game plans, and culture.

“It was strange not to be involved in running like I usually do,” Barrett said. “Just going all the time without the basketball, it was a little weird.”

Barrett is not the first NBA player to go through this. The most recent, most extreme example came two years ago during the height of COVID-19 with Washington Wizards sniper Davis Bertans. The 2019-20 season closed in mid-March, and Bertans climbed through that summer’s NBA bubble and free agency didn’t start until November. He went to camp after avoiding basketball for eight months and spent the entire season trying to play catch-up.

These conditions are much more severe than Barrett’s. It wasn’t in bad shape. No one with the Knicks questions his dedication. But, as he put it:

“At the end of the day, you have to play basketball, man. I was still practicing, but there’s nothing like what the game looks like. Playing games, and getting used to it again, is the best thing.”

Suddenly, a slow start to 2022-23 is starting to make sense. And with his recent running fashion, Barrett is betting that the unfortunate fall is the only result of an unusual summer.

The Knicks may have lost for the first time in two-and-a-half weeks on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t because of Barrett, whose turnaround was a major part of the team’s just eight-win streak. Barrett went 30 points on 11-of-19 in the defeat by the Toronto Raptors. He got into the paint, raked four three-pointers and found pitchers who line the perimeter better.

“This is really RJ,” said Thibodeau. “In my three years, it’s just been a steady climb all season. It just keeps going. I think he’s found a good rhythm. I think when he’s out on open ground and going down, it’s good for our team. It’s impossible for him to guard when he plays like that.”

The numbers were staggering through most of Knicks’ career, especially considering he was one of the league’s least proficient scorers up until his debut. Over his past seven games, he has averaged 24.9 points on 52 percent on 2-point shooting and 40 percent on three-pointers.

Thibodeau is using it differently now. The Knicks going into a nine-man rotation almost three weeks ago meant stretches as Barrett gets the second unit. But even in those situations, the decision-making process changed. It takes 35 percent of the shots in the paint. And he does it in a more skillful manner. It’s as if he’s getting more comfortable with the game.

Last season and even during the early parts of this season, a lot of Barrett’s buckets came when he put his head down and took off for the rim. still does; His strength is his greatest… his strength. Recently, however, he’s shown ways to score that go beyond just working his way away from the basket.

For example, take the game at Indiana from this past weekend, when Barrett went up against Pacers High-flying shot blocker Miles Turner.

Barrett was more methodical. post up. At one point, he hit a turning float with his back to the basket. He used a bit of slashing to surprise an unexpected defender and draw a foul as if he was trying for a try DeMar DeRozan impersonating two days after he confronted DeRozan, which may not be a coincidence since Barrett studies All-Star flair.

He rushes into the corridor further and uses his power as soon as he arrives. Notice in this play Friends Hield Dare him to go right and finish way down against Turner:

In this regard, Hield noted observing the ball and making a neat cut for a one-two finish:

He uses a substitution and finds space better when he’s playing with the starters. During the second part of last season, Barrett became first choice. Now, when with Galen Bronson And the Julius Randelis often the third.

The Pacers game was without a doubt his best performance ever. He took six of them at Indiana and made five. One was in a crafty cut, three were on the drive and one was in that post follow.

This kind of touch did not exist before. Even as he continued that hot streak to wrap up 2021-22, Barrett’s floater was always a weakness. Recently, he found it.

“I’m working on it,” Barrett said. “If that’s the shot the team wants to give me, I have to be able to take it down.”

Bronson, the extra-ordinary pivot, jokes backstage that Barrett steals his moves. It’s not like he’s giving private lessons to Barrett.

“I’ve been doing that. I’ve been watching movies a lot, trying to work on new things,” Barrett said. But it’s a little easier to get a tip from someone whose office is a few lockers to your left.

“I’m giving him a hard time, but he’s in a rhythm,” Bronson said. “He plays well. He’s just able to read a defense. You see something, you try to attack it. He does a great job at that.”

Now, Barrett’s contract situation has been resolved. It has been extended for four years and will make at least $107 million. The deal only starts next season, but he has the security. Next summer, commercial interests do not take precedence.

He plans to play for the Canadian national team in the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup, scheduled for the end of August through September. He’ll be spending time in Los Angeles, the overseas capital of the NBA these days, cruising through mini-tours with other pros. Coach Barrett hosts intensive summer sessions involving other top-flight players, such as Jason TatumAnd the Zack Lavigne And the Bradley Bell.

There was one problem with this plan, though: It would be treacherous to move to Los Angeles from Thibodeau’s couch.

(Photo by Barrett: Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

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