Iggy Brazdeikis Thrives As RJ Barrett Struggles In Knicks Summer League

Alex Greenberg
July 08, 2019 - 1:29 pm
Iggy Brazdeikis

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The 2019 NBA Summer League is in full swing, but the Knicks are struggling.

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The losses didn’t end last season. New York has started Summer League 0-2, which wouldn’t be too much cause for concern, but the losses have also been mired by RJ Barrett’s issues.

After two games, Barrett is shooting just 7 for 33 with 10 turnovers and only two assists in just under 70 minutes of playing time. The No. 3 overall pick in June’s draft has been forcing shots and losing the ball.

There’s never any reason to overreact to struggles in Summer League. Barrett will have plenty of time to turn things around this summer, and eventually this fall when training camp and preseason begin.

But it hasn’t been all bad for the Knicks this July. Barrett’s struggles have been overshadowed by the impressive play of Ignas Brazdeikis. Brazdeikis, who Knicks fans have already taken to calling “Iggy,” put on another show on Sunday night during New York’s 105-100 loss to the Phoenix Suns. The 20-year-old Lithuanian native tallied 30 points, eight rebounds and two assists in the defeat.

Brazdeikis was drafted 47th overall by the Sacramento Kings before promptly being traded to the Knicks. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last year in what was his only season at the University of Michigan.

Knicks Summer League head coach Jed Beuchler was encouraged by Brazdeikis’ early success.

"He's a fighter, he's a scrapper, he's not afraid of anything or anyone.”

Iggy Brazdeikis
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Beuchler also didn’t seem too concerned about Barrett’s issues in the opening two games.

“RJ's figuring it out … This has been a ton of pressure on him coming in here, especially with the hype of the last game. He's done some great things. He had a bunch of rebounds tonight. He made a really nice defensive play at the end of the game. The shooting will come. We're not worried about that. We're telling him to stay aggressive and, as you can tell, he's not backing away at all. He believes in it, we believe in it and it will come."

Brazdeikis was born in Lithuania, but his family eventually relocated to Canada, and he represents Canada in international basketball competitions. Barrett is also Canadian, and thus he and Brazdeikis have played with each other before. Iggy was confident that Barrett would find his form soon enough.

"He's one of the best players I've ever seen or played with," Brazdeikis said. "It's only a matter of time before he starts being himself and getting buckets. There's literally no doubt in my mind that he's going to get there, and very soon too."