NBA

Steve Nash Urges Knicks Fans Not to Rush to Judgement on RJ Barrett

The Knicks are a disaster. After spending years anticipating a free agency haul this past season, New York failed to garner any top-tier free agents. Furthermore, missing out on Zion Williamson, the team fell to third in the draft. With that pick, the Knicks chose RJ Barrett out of Duke. With Barrett struggling to find his place, his famous godfather is trying to preach patience to Knicks fans.

The rise of RJ Barrett

Barrett got his start playing in his home country of Canada, reports Sports Illustrated. There, he made waves as a young phenom. After moving to Florida to play at Montverde Academy, Barrett became one of the top prospects in the U.S. Dozens of schools clamored for a chance to get him. As they often do with prospects, Duke won the sweepstakes and brought in Barrett to play alongside Williamson. 

Although Williamson was the highlight of Duke’s season, Barrett had a successful year. He showed an ability to score at will, averaging 22.6 points per game. He also rebounded well at nearly eight per game and even showed some playmaking with four assists. Barrett was destined to be a top prospect for the NBA draft.

With Duke’s star duo, not to mention Cam Reddish, Tre Jones, and the rest of the team, Duke had a great season. Although the Blue Devils ultimately fell short of their goal, they made it to the fourth round of the NCAA tournament. With the season finished, Barrett decided to test the NBA waters. 

Barrett in the NBA

Williamson got most of the hype entering the draft. Despite Barrett’s place as a top prospect, Knicks fans expected Williamson after their terrible season. So Barrett already had something working against him. On top of this, the team’s inability to attract Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or any other star free agents left a bitter taste in fans’ mouthes.

Through no fault of his own, Barrett would have to perform like a superstar to get in fans’ good graces. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case as the season started. Barrett immediately secured a spot as starting shooting guard, but New York struggled out of the gate. With David Fizdale fired early in the season and Mike Miller taking over, things didn’t get much better

Through 48 games, Barrett has averaged nearly 14 points per game. Although this isn’t bad on its own, his 38.7% shooting and 30% shooting from downtown is quite disturbing. Barrett often looks lost on the court and struggles on many nights. It’s still early in his career, but things don’t look hopeful. 

Fortunately, Barrett has his godfather on his side — and his godfather knows a thing or two about the NBA. 

Steve Nash, Barrett’s famous godfather

Growing up, Barrett’s father was a pro basketball player. Although he didn’t make it into the NBA, he played around the world and for Canada’s national team. That’s where he met another young star named Steve Nash, and the two became friends. When Barrett’s father had a son, there was only one choice for the godfather.

Already in the NBA, Nash was on the verge of his MVP seasons in the years after Barrett was born, so the child got to see his godfather succeed from an early age. Now out of the NBA, Nash thinks patience is key when dissecting his godson’s game.

“[Barrett has] shown very much of what I thought he’d show. He’s an incredibly talented, well-rounded basketball player,” Nash said per The New York Daily News. “He does a bit of everything. I think he will evolve into a great playmaker because that’s a natural ability for him that he doesn’t necessarily get to shine in at this stage of his career and on this stage of this team.”

Nash believes the key to Barrett’s success is his ability to do a little bit of everything. While this might not have grown into fruition, development takes time. Nash, after all, was little more than a role player before becoming an All-Star and MVP, so he knows a thing or two. 

“That’s exciting for Knicks fans that he still produces, he’s versatile, he can score,” Nash explained. “He’s growing defensively. And for me, he’s a natural playmaker and that hasn’t been a part of his upside yet that’s highlighted. So for the franchise, that’s exciting.”

Whether Nash is correct about his godson or not, Barrett has a long way ahead of him. Players aren’t made in their rookie season, and few enter the NBA without any adversity. It’s how Barrett will respond to the difficulties that will define him. 

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