Being a top-3 pick, most people around the NBA would expect that you make an instant impact and show glimpses of superstar potential. However, not all players develop as fast, especially depending on the environment they are in.
That's why people often compare RJ Barrett to Zion Williamson or Ja Morant and feel like he's an underachiever. But hey, Barrett has shared the floor with an alpha dog in Julius Randle, while Morant and Williamson were handed the keys to the offense right away.
Barrett went third in last year's draft, trailing those two players, and it seems like people just don't feel like he's a franchise player. Then again, he's averaging 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.4 three-pointers per game on 45/38/73 shooting in just his second season in the league.
RJ Barrett Says He's Not Focused In Other Players
That's why, when asked about whether he looks up to Zion Williamson or Ja Morant and the way they've already turned into stars, the Canadian guard sounded off and shut down that narrative right away:
“My game speaks for itself. I mean you can look at our numbers, you can look at our team’s success. It doesn’t really matter. As long as I keep getting better as a player, I’ll be happy," RJ Barrett told the media, as quoted by Ian Begley of SNY.
It's also worth noting that, even if Zion and Morant have better numbers than Barrett, they haven't even made the playoffs yet, while Barrett and the Knicks might as well reach that stage this season.
Tom Thibodeau Lauds RJ Barrett's Work Ethic
Barrett continues to improve as the days go by and he proved it last night, scoring 15 clutch points in the fourth quarter and overtime to give the Knicks a much-needed win over the Raptors. After that game, his coach Tom Thibodeau just showered him in praise.
“I think he's showing his growth and maturity. He didn't get rattled. Things weren't going our way. Just stay the course, fought his way through it. The shooting piece has been huge. And then he’s finishing is vastly improved as well. His all-round play has been terrific. His work ethic is top of the line, his attitude and approach are top of the line. He’s a team-first guy. He’s 20 years old and he’s only going to get better," Thibodeau said.
At the end of the day, we shouldn't get carried away so fast and call him a but. Barrett has worked on his craft and it's showing. So even if he's not a dominant force of nature like Zion or an outspoken leader like Ja, he can still turn out to be pretty great.