It’s time for RJ Barrett to lead the New York Knicks

I have no disrespect to Julius Randle, but the New York Knicks are now RJ Barrett’s team.

RJ Barrett is warming up, as are the New York Knicks with him.

In case you missed it, the Knickerbockers are 7-3 in their last ten games and outscored the Dallas Mavericks at home, 108-85. Barrett’s 32 points led the way, continuing his scorching January.

Since the schedule moved to 2022, Barrett is averaging 24.3 points and shooting 47.7% from the field, plus an incredible 50% from three.

And yet, what is the main storyline of the Knicks camp? The ongoing saga with Julius Randle. Forget RJ Barrett having a fairly dominant stroke in his quietly unique way. Let’s keep talking about Randle’s collapse after a breakout season.

Be careful, that doesn’t mean Randle had a horrible game against Dallas. He was a naughty 6 of 17 on the field, sure, but he still had 17 points with 12 rebounds and eight assists. Plus, his efforts were there and he showed some of the confidence that made him the most improved player of the last year.

And maybe that’s just it. Could Randle be the best second option and Barrett the best man to lead?

From now on, these signs indicate yes.

RJ Barrett can keep his cool

We all saw how much Barrett struggled earlier this season. Confidence with his jump shot wasn’t there, consistency and percentages was an issue, and what was at times a death three-point shot last season has almost become a non-factor.

Whether that hot streak ends tomorrow, the end of the month, or lasts the entire season, there is now official confirmation. RJ Barrett can lead a team. It’s hard to imagine, especially since he played behind dominant Zion Williamson at Duke. In fact, Williamson went on to go No.1 in the 2019 NBA Draft while New York chose Barrett at No.3.

But where is Zion Williamson now? Sure, he can play… when he’s not drowning in foot and conditioning issues. At this rate, he is better known for what can to be more than what he is: a phenomenal talent who cannot stay off the coaching table.

On the other hand, where is RJ Barrett? Show that while he may have started as a top-of-the-line No.2 in a team, he is no longer.

It’s time to give the 21-year-old Canadian the keys to the kingdom, with Julius Randle as a complementary piece.

Barrett leader means making the most of Randle

Watch the highlights above and see what’s included in Randle. Even with his streak attack, he’s still very active on the glass and more than happy to serve the ball. That’s not to say that he automatically looks to pass rather than score, but he’s still very aware of when a teammate looks good.

RJ Barrett, meanwhile, seems unstoppable. He can easily score in the paint, is recovering from three legs and looking more and more confident in the midrange. It’s as if he’s assuming the leadership mantle left open by Derrick Rose and the rest of the Knicks are following his lead.

We’ve seen flashes of Julius Randle being a strong team leader. It was the V8 engine that drove the New York Knicks all last season. If he wants to lead the squad now, he should take on the role of a nearly one point attacker, let Barrett take the scoring and focus more on a balanced attack.

Final thoughts

The Knicks drafted RJ Barrett because they clearly saw his potential as a lifeblood of the franchise. This month Barrett has shown he can handle the big chair.

Let him sit in it and maybe watch the New York Knicks continue that hot streak.

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