The NBA trade deadline and All-Star weekend are behind us, which means the first half of the 2019-2020 season is complete. There has been major trades and even significant front office changes. One of the major headlines before the deadline was that the New York Knicks are no longer under President Steve Mills after firing him days before the deadline. The team stands at an embarrassing 17-41 record, playing in an already weak Eastern Conference. The failing Knicks organization had high expectations in last year's off-season, expecting to land names like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and even hopeful of the number one overall pick, Zion Williamson.
Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and the Knicks fell to the third pick in the lottery. They drafted RJ Barrett, who wasn't even the team's original choice. Knicks ultimately had to settle with fate. As for Barrett, let's just say he hasn't been living up to the hype.
On a positive note, New York has been very welcoming to the "Canadian Mamba", but the first half of the season has not been very kind to him. Barrett, the former Duke Blue-Devils' superstar, has not met the expectations and is playing far from his potential. He has struggled shooting from the field in most games. Prior to the All-Star break, Barrett has shot a disappointing 31% from behind the arc, 61% from the free throw line, and a low 38% field goal percentage. In the month of February he has shot 3-22 from three-point line, and it's not what you expect out of your top-tier draft pick.
During All-Star break, he played really well for team World in the Rising Stars game against the USA team, shooting 11-17 and scoring 27 points. Eyes would be on RJ Barrett for the rest of the season after that performance to see if that level of play will continue forth. In his most recent game after the break, Barrett scored 17 points from 19 field goal attempts, and the three-point woes continued, missing all five of his attempts against the Indiana Pacers.
Perhaps there is a logical reason behind the poor shooting. He's actually right-handed, but prefers to shoot with his left hand. Quite strange. He has told reporters that he feels more comfortable to shoot with his left even though he believes his right hand is the better form. This might be the problem he needs to adjust. Barrett has done everything with his right hand except shooting because he grew up ambidextrous.
Barrett did bounce back against the Rockets on Monday night in Houston. He scored 21 points and looked great in the first quarter, coming out red-hot, but he cooled down with 5 turnovers to end the game. Taking care of the ball is definitely something the rookie needs to work on, but the biggest issue the rookie has struggled with is free throws, and it even stretches back to his college days at Duke. Most may recall Barrett's late free throw miss against Michigan State which cost his team the game.
Unfortunately, the shooting woes did continue in Barrett's recent game against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night. The rookie shot a miserable 2-11 from the field. He didn't even get any attempts from the free-throw line. To his defense, he played a very low 21 minutes and ended the game with five points. You can't put the blame on Barrett if he's not seeing the ball nor getting enough touches, but you can hold him accountable for missing the shots he does take, and going 2-11 is unacceptable. Barrett must adjust his shooting technique and start shooting with his right hand because his left is not getting the job done. We await to see whether he improves his shooting as we continue into the latter half of the NBA season.