|Freshman||6’7″ 202||Shooting Guard||Duke||DOB: 6/14/00|
|22.6 ppg||7.6 rpg||4.3 apg||FG: 45.4%||3 PT: 30.8%|
Strengths: Shot Creation, Athleticism, Size, Natural Scorer
Weaknesses: Efficiency, Turnovers, Shot Selection
Barrett started the season projected as the number one overall pick by most in the basketball world before being passed by his teammate Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. The fact that Morant is expected to go at #2 probably has less to do with Morant vs. Barrett and more to do with the fact that the Grizzlies believe they can start a new chapter with Ja Morant leading the way with the presumption they will trade Mike Conley at some point. There are reasons that Barrett came into the season considered the best NBA prospect by most people who follow amateur basketball, starting with the fact he has been a dominant scorer and a winner at every level before entering college. At 6’7″ being able to play both guard positions or slide over to the three at some points allows teams to play him in multiple different looks, and he was used at Duke somewhat like James Harden plays in the Houston system. He can create a shot with ease being able to create separation off of the dribble using step backs, crossovers or just a simply pull up. On smaller guards he uses his size to get to the basket or easily shoot a jumper, although the size of the average guard will increase in the league. He has the agility and quickness to get by defenders when driving to the basket, and he can finish at or around the rim well through contact. As an athlete Barrett will fit in well with a solid vertical and running the floor with good speed. This along with his shot making ability will make him productive in fast break situations, whether it is leading the break or setting up for a catch and shoot situation. Barrett showed the ability to pass in his freshman season, especially when driving into the lane and leading a fast break, which he should be able to do well at the next level.
The most glaring flaw in his game as a freshman was his shooting efficiency, with Barrett going 30.5% on three point attempts and 36.9% on two point jump shots. These numbers will need to improve for him to reach his ceiling as a professional, and his amateur career as well as his solid shooting mechanics suggest the numbers will go up over time. One other concern with his shooting is the fact that he was 66.5% on free throw attempts, and for a player that can get to the line often he needs to improve this to not become a liability when driving to the basket and getting fouled. Shot selection was an issue at times making this an area that needs improvement, however he was asked to do a lot on the offensive end with the ball in his hands and that experience should help him going forward. In the same way that he forced the issue with some bad shots, turnovers were also an issue where Barrett just simply made some bad decisions. Both of these areas with some coaching and more experience should work themselves out and will not be considered major concerns. As a defender he has the length, size and athleticism to compete on the NBA level, and these should allow him to guard multiple positions but he could struggle early on as a defender. Barrett rebounded the ball at a high level averaging almost 8 per game, and if he is able to continue this as a professional it will make him a much more valuable player than just an offensive play maker. Averaging 22.6 points per game as a freshman in the ACC is no easy task, and when you add that to his accomplishments before coming to Duke, there is the potential that he could be an elite scorer as a professional.
This play shows off his athletic ability:
Here is a play that gives you an idea of how he can create and knock down an outside jump shot.
RJ Barrett in the win over Wake Forest tonight: 21 points, 7 assists and this MEAN step-back jumper pic.twitter.com/MTDYp9xxFO— SI College Hoops (@si_ncaabb) January 9, 2019
Barrett is viewed as a top three talent and with the Grizzlies expected to select Ja Morant at #2, his most likely landing spot is #3 which is currently the Knicks. His ceiling as a professional is a starter level guard reaching an all star level, bringing elite scoring and play making ability. The worst case scenario for Barrett is that he is unable to shoot the ball efficiently enough to put up all star caliber numbers or become a franchise player, but is still a solid scoring guard in a starting role.