Knicks Take RJ Barrett With 3rd Overall Pick In NBA Draft

Ryan Chatelain
June 21, 2019 - 12:35 am
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RJ Barrett's wish has come true: He's now a New York Knick.

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The Knicks pulled no surprises with the third overall pick in Thursday night's NBA draft, selecting the Duke swingman.

With Zion Williamson going to New Orleans first overall and Ja Morant being picked by Memphis at No. 2, as was widely expected, New York went with the player who was third on the vast majority of draft experts' boards.

"I've given this game all I've got for a long time, and I'm just ready for this," Barrett told ESPN moments after being picked. "And I want to embrace the city and embrace the team and everything, so I'm ready to go."

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Barrett was emotional, crying on the shoulder of his father, former St. John's and Canadian national team player Rowan Barrett, during the ESPN interview. 

Knicks fans in attendance at the draft at Brooklyn's Barclays Center erupted in cheers when the pick announced and chanted "RJ."

"I'm glad the city wants me here as much as I want to be here," Barrett said of the reception.

Knicks general manager Scott Perry said it became clear that Barrett was a "perfect fit from a culture standpoint." 

He "just reaffirmed what we seen done in the collegiate season that he has a really good chance to be a great player at the NBA level," Perry said. "Made us really comfortable at No. 3."

In his lone season at Duke, the 6-foot-7 Barrett, who turned 19 last week, averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists. He was considered the top recruit coming out of high school in Ontario, Canada.

Barrett is a prospect who has elite athleticism and uses his explosiveness, nifty footwork and overall craftiness to finish strong to the basket, scouting reports say. He also has a high basketball IQ and is an instinctive scorer. Areas he'll need to work on in the NBA, draft experts say, include developing a better outside shot and becoming less reliant on his left hand.

Since last month's draft lottery, Barrett has made no secret about his desire to play for the Knicks, saying New York was the only team he wanted to work out for privately.

"It would be a lot of fun, playing in the Garden, under the bright lights," he said at his Pro Day last month. "We had a great and honest conversation, so it was good … I like Madison Square Garden. I got to play there, but my family is from Brooklyn. So, I guess that's my favorite part (of New York).” 

On Wednesday, Barrett revealed that his late grandfather was a big Knicks fan.

"He always told me I’d play for the Knicks," Barrett said. "So it would mean a lot for me to play for the team.’’

KNICKS TRADE UP FOR MICHIGAN STAR

The Knicks also owned a second-round pick -- 55th overall -- but traded up to No. 47 with the Sacramento Kings and selected Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis. The Knicks also gave up cash considerations in the deal, reports said.

The 6-foot-7 Brazdeikis led the Wolverines with 14.8 points per game last season and connected on 39.2% of his 3-point attempts. He also averaged 5.4 rebounds.

Brazdeikis and Barrett were teammates on the Canadian youth national team.