RJ Barrett at point guard? Knicks are experimenting
Opening night, Dennis Smith Jr. is expected to be the starting point guard for the New York Knicks (although veterans Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina are officially still in the mix).
However, why not let rookie RJ Barrett run the point at times? The Knicks want to put the ball in the wing shot creator’s hands’ anyway, so why not just call him the point guard at times? Knicks’ coach David Fizdale is experimenting with that a little, he told Ian Begley of SNY.tv.
“I’ve thrown him at that position a couple times already,” David Fizdale said Tuesday. “He played some of that in college. I think it adds another layer to how dynamic he can be. Especially having somebody that big that can switch things do some different things defensively. So yeah, I’ll sprinkle that in…
“He’s really poised. He looks comfortable,” Fizdale said. “The kid likes having the ball in his hands. He’s unselfish. He finds people. He understands – he knows our plays from that position. I feel very comfortable if I have to throw him there.”
This is what training camp and preseason games are for, just try some things. That should carry over into the start of the regular season.
The Knicks didn’t draft Barrett No. 3 to have him work off-the-ball most of the time, he was drafted to be a difference maker on offense. Call him a point guard, a wing, whatever, just get the ball in his hands and let him work.
Through two preseason games — so take a lot of salt with this — he has averaged 16 points a game, shot 36.4 percent from three, and averaged seven rebounds a game.
This season, as a rookie, having all that offensive responsibility will mean some hard lessons to go with his successes — we saw him struggle at Summer League, and that is only going to continue against better defenders in the NBA. There’s a steep learning curve. Barrett has the skills and mindset to grow from all that.
And he’d make a pretty good point guard in certain lineups.