Francesa: RJ Barrett Stood Out Despite Not Being In Spotlight At Duke

Mike's On
June 21, 2019 - 6:26 pm

RJ Barrett is officially a New York Knick.

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Fans at Barclays Center cheered when the Knicks drafted Barrett with the third overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. The former Duke star seems just as eager to get started with the project that is turning this Knicks team around.

Mike Francesa opened his Friday show on WFAN by giving his thoughts on how the draft had gone for the Knicks. Francesa likes Barrett, and thinks there would be even more hype around him if he hadn’t played in the shadow of Zion Williamson at Duke.

“That was a tricky team for him,” said Francesa. “He had to play for a legendary coach. He had to play in the shadow of a star the likes of which we haven’t had in college basketball for years and years. The machine was just churning out incredible amounts of marketing for Zion … That was a freshman-led team. Plus, it was not a great shooting team by Duke standards. And it was not the best defensive Duke team either.”


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In his lone season in college, Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists. He was considered the top recruit coming out of high school from Ontario, Canada, but it quickly became clear at Duke that Williamson was the star of the team.

Despite flying under the radar a bit more than was expected, Francesa noted that Barrett still stood out as one of the best players in the country.

“But I thought Barrett pronounced himself very well, had a very productive year … he took some bad shots but he made big plays in big games, including in the NCAA Tournament. So, I think he has a chance to be a very, very good player. And you heard Coach K say that he thought that he had the makings of a star. It would be nice if one broke right for the Knicks.”

With the draft now in the past, there is a crucial free agency period up next for the Knicks. Francesa emphasized that the team should only commit big money to the absolute best players available.

“What the Knicks have to really guard against is being impatient, being impetuous, and just filling those (max spots) with guys who don’t deserve it. That’s the worst thing they could do, because that sets them back enormously. That kills them.”

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full open from Mike Francesa's Friday show.