RJ Barrett has changed this series and Knicks fans' minds
Updated: Apr 29
RJ Barrett is a controversial figure amongst Knicks fans. Some think he is overrated and will never be a big-time player. Some defend him by saying he was the third pick in the draft and is only 22 years old.
Barrett has shown potential and growth but maybe not as quickly as Knicks fans would've liked. It didn't help that he was in the rumored Donovan Mitchell trade package that never went through. Fans thought the Knicks were finally going to land that superstar but the front office's reluctance to give up Barrett and draft picks stood in the way.
Through the first two games of this series, Barrett was struggling mightily shooting 6 of 25, while Mitchell was lighting the Knicks up, scoring 38 in Game 1. That all changed starting in Game 3.
Barrett came out aggressive from the jump in Game 3, driving right to the basket multiple times early. He even hit 3 of 6 from three-point range, one of the biggest problems in his game. He looked like a completely different player from the series' first two games and even the regular season.
Game 4 was even better. Barrett scored 26, looking confident and drawing fouls consistently. The man he was almost traded for, Donovan Mitchell, was awful scoring 11 points on 5 of 18 shooting. Knicks fans are feeling a lot better about the trade that wasn't right now.
The Knicks have needed Barrett to step up with Julius Randle struggling and possibly not 100%. Immanuel Quickley has also been tentative offensively. Someone needed to take over that number two role behind Jalen Brunson. Barrett has answered the bell.
The Knicks are not up 3-1 in this series without RJ Barrett's play in Games 3 and 4 of this series. Teams up 3-1 go on to win the series 95% of the time. Barrett has set the Knicks up to move on to the second round for just the second time in 23 years.
Fans have gone from calling for Barrett to be traded to chanting his name at MSG in a playoff game. It has been a roller coaster ride for Barrett in New York. His play in the last two games of this series has changed at least one Knicks fan's mind on his future here.