Knicks’ RJ Barrett already taking on leadership role in third season

RJ Barrett white Knicks uniform at MSG walking upcourt without ball

This past week was one to forget for the Knicks, as they dropped all three of their matchups to fall two games under the .500 mark.

Despite the recent rough stretch, R.J. Barrett met with the media on Saturday, saying the team feels like they’re in a good place to regroup and get back on track as they welcome the Los Angeles Clippers to The Garden on Sunday afternoon.

“We had a really good practice today,” Barrett said.” After a practice like that, the mood, everybody just feels better as a unit, as a team. We feel prepared for tomorrow.”

The Knicks have been in a funk as a team, but Barrett has still averaged 17.3 points per game over the last three games, and in the three games prior (all Knicks wins), he averaged 29.7 points per contest, proving he’s able to take on more of the offensive load.

Barrett’s averaging 16.9 points (a slight dip from last season’s 17.6 points per game), but the Duke product’s growth as a player has been apparent, and it’s about more than the pure numbers. Barrett, though still just 21 years old, has become one of the leaders of this Knicks group, not just with his words, but with actions as well.

“I feel Year Three, also just being with this staff and these guys for a couple years now, it’s a lot easier for me,” Barrett said. “I’m out there on the court experiencing things, seeing things, trying to help in any way that I can. I feel that leadership is not just what you say, it’s what you do, how you act, how you comport yourself at the facility, at the games, everywhere. So [I’m] just trying to bring positive energy, and also, I think that the staff and players have trust in me as well that if I say something or I put my two cents in, that we can have a conversation about it.

“I think it starts first in character. If you say something you’ve got to be able to do it yourself. Also being able to take criticism and being coachable, I think those two things go hand-in-hand.”

Barrett and the Knicks will finish out their four-game homestand on Sunday against the Clippers before hitting the road for three straight games against Cleveland, Miami, and Milwaukee.


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