The New York Knicks have surpassed expectations this season. Three quarters into the season now, they hold the eighth seed and have a real shot at the playoffs. Although Julius Randle has been the anchor of this side, RJ Barrett has been a strong second option. However, with as much competition as there is in the East, the question remains if he is enough to support Julius Randle as the second option on a playoff team.
Why Barrett Is Enough
At his best, RJ Barrett has been very strong. The 20-year-old is averaging 17 points and six rebounds and a big part of the Knicks’ success. Recently, his 3-point-shooting has been phenomenal recently and went 6/6 from behind the line in his most recent game against the Celtics. The young forward is slowly becoming more and more efficient and with just a little touching up on his game, can become unstoppable.
Despite being as young as he is, the Canadian is a very strong player who gets to the rim with ease. This, matched with consistent shooting is the key to victory for the Knicks now, and in the future. It hasn’t all come together yet but if it does, things will be looking good for the Knickerbockers.
Additionally, Barrett adds high-intensity defense and is one of the strongest players on that end for New York. He matches Tom Thibodeau’s gritty style perfectly and has flourished under him.
Why Barrett Isn’t Enough
Although Barrett played some fantastic games, he struggled in multiple games. RJ Barrett can be inconsistent and is guilty of some very passive games in the past. At his best, he can put up 25-30 points, however too often does he struggle at random times. Most recently, he put up just eight points in 30 minutes in a high game vs the Mavericks just a week ago. The Maple Mamba is young, meaning being inconsistent is expected, however, this cannot be excused for a second option on a potential playoff team.
Even when he can consistently put up 17 points per game, he’s still averaging less than all other playoff contenting second options in the East. Barrett is in fact the lowest-scoring second option on a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. If he isn’t doing as much as other second options, there’s little reason to expect he’s enough to really help the Knicks to the playoffs.
It’s difficult to really make a decision here. While Barrett isn’t averaging just as much as others in similar roles, the Knicks still hold a playoff spot three-quarters into the season. However, New York is just a mere two games out of playoff contention with the Indiana Pacers just behind. The forward is starting to heat up and could be nearing a hot run towards the end of this season following a strong 29 point game just yesterday.
With the amount of competition in the East and the firepower of some of the sides that are close to catching up to the Knicks, it’s likely Barrett on his own isn’t enough as a second option. However, with the support he is offered through the rest of this Knicks side, their playoff hopes are far from doomed. In the end, RJ Barrett has the keys to take the Knicks to the next level. If he can start to put up more impressive games like that of the Celtics game, the Knicks’ future is in great hands.