Knicks forward RJ Barrett slumps, but concerns remain

The 2022 season is not like what the Knicks or RJ Barrett envisioned when choosing the third master before signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension in August. While his recent underperformance may be an exception, questions remain about Barrett’s effectiveness and cap.

In a 129-119 win over the Thunder on Monday night, Barrett scored 25 points in 10 of 16 shots, including an attractive five-to-five start.

However, in the previous five games, the Knicks forward averaged 12.6 points out of 26.3% of his game time. while reportedly battling an undisclosed illness. The stretch includes a 2 to 25 slide from downtown.

Nine days ago, the 22-year-old was on the bench in the second half of a match. 145-135 lost to Oklahoma City.

Barrett had a career year last seasonaveraged 20 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3 assists, but the advanced stats suggest worrying things.

According to John Hollinger’s NBA Player Statistics, Barrett’s 2021-22 player efficiency rating (PER) is 13.72 ranked 195th out of 375 qualified players. (The higher the number, the more efficient the player.)

For comparison, the league’s average PER is 15. Barrett’s PER is seventh highest on the Knicks’ 37-45 record last season.

After Barrett report was offered in a commercial package to Donovan Mitchell, the Knicks (9-9) revolved around an extension for him after the negotiations ended. The team believes that pairing him with a freelance agent subscriber Jalen Brunson would elevate Barrett to a longtime All-Star caliber.

While Brunson (20.8 ppg, 6.7 apg) has lived up to its $104 million price tag, the new addition hasn’t paid Barrett a dividend.

Over 18 games, Barrett’s PER has dropped to 11.42 — 252nd out of 334 eligible players. His slashes per game compared to a year ago have dropped to 18.3/ 5.1/ 2.9.

Barrett’s three-pointer rate has dropped each season since his 40% scoring rate in the second season. He shot 34.2% from behind the arc last season and is shooting badly at 27.3% this season.

With an extended break and Friday’s home game against Damian Lillard without Portland, Barrett will have a good chance to build a promising performance on Monday night.

However, if Barrett returns to his most recent form, the Knicks could have major problems on their hands.

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