The other Duke star coming into the NBA this year is RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks. He was taken third overall, and is ready for life in the NBA. The Knicks had big plans for the offseason, and we can certainly say this is not what the fans expected. The Knicks added some more secondary pieces in free agency, and none that will take away a significant amount of usage from Barrett. He projects to be around the 30 minute mark, and is going to get his shots up. We have already seen a glimpse of him in the Summer League, which was more telling of the up and down nature of his scoring.
He was able to chip in with assists, and he did that at Duke last season. Barrett struggled at the rim a bit in the Summer League, and that was something that weighed him down at Duke. His overall scoring is going to have a wide range of outcomes within the first few years. Barrett isn’t getting the same type of love as the two names above him on draft night in fantasy, and deservingly so. Efficiency is going to be an issue, and defensive stats will likely not be tied to his name in year one either. In league’s that don’t weight volume too heavily or even at all, he is better suited there.
RJ Barrett Projected Fantasy Stats
RJ Barrett’s first 64 minutes of Summer League:
RJ Barrett’s last 57 minutes of Summer League:
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— It’s a Hard Knicks Life Podcast (@HardKnicksLife) July 11, 2019
We saw RJ Barrett average 22-7-4 in 35.3 minutes per game at Duke last season. He shot 45% from the field, 30% from three, and 66% from the line. The three and free throw numbers are concerning, and won’t be immediate fixes this year, although we know he is working on them. The defensive numbers don’t suggest any sort of transition into those categories now that he is in the NBA. Barrett stands a chance to post in just a few categories, and struggle in others. The efficiency stats would be a complete surprise if he shot 43% or higher, given the volume he should be around the 40% mark.
Barrett is a solid rebounder, and should come away with five per game, with some room for more. If he finds himself in a ball-handling role and overall moves the ball around, he can 4-5 assists this season, compared to the 3.5 where he is projected. I still believe the Knicks have enough offensive options to where Barrett just doesn’t average 20 per game because he has all the volume.
In the points per game department, Barrett has a solid floor. I don’t see him steeping below the 15 point per game mark, but how he gets them is where we need to look. We won’t put a ton of weight in his Summer League numbers, but the shooting struggles came and went at Duke. He is a bit limited with his versatility on offense, which could cause trouble early on. Given that he doesn’t add defensive stats, he isn’t going to be a guy who chips in across all categories. The FG% is already projected to be near his floor, and his upside would be closer to 44% or so. Even if he doesn’t rebound as strong as anticipated, 3-4 rebounds is still solid for him, and the same goes for the assists. Ultimately you can find guys with this range that due add in a few other categories farther in the draft. This is my big issue with taking him early.
What to Expect
The advantage that RJ Barrett has in fantasy is that he will have SG and SF eligibility, and SF is rather thin. He is being drafted as a top ten SF, middling around Khris Middleton and Danilo Gallinari. Both are guys I would rather take over him. His average DP at the moment is 61.5, which is too high for me given he lacks in several categories. Volume will carry Barrett as he will have a chance to lead the offense at times. While there is some upside for the first year player, I am not as high on him getting to that potential and would rather have some surrounding options in drafts. I am leaning on Barrett being closer to his floor rather than his ceiling, and at the ADP there will be plenty of options to take later on that can post similar numbers and then some.
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