RJ Barrett was one of the most feared players in college basketball last season. Along with Zion Williamson, the Duke tandem was one of the best 1-2 punches the game has seen in a long time.
Being a pure scorer from all levels, the Knicks were confident that Barrett was worthy of that No. 3 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft. But when the NBA Rookie survey results surfaced, Barrett's fellow rookies weren't too high on him.
Barrett didn't lead in any of the categories, and he didn't receive any votes in a few like "Best Defender," "Best Shooter," and others. But if you know Barrett, you know that he has always let his game do the talking.
"When it's all said and done and you see the actual results, nobody is going to remember the survey," Barrett told The Daily News' Stefan Bondy.
Williamson had the most votes for Rookie of the Year at 35 percent, while the second overall pick in Ja Morant came in at 27 percent. Barrett had just two votes for the award, which was 5 percent. Even Cam Reddish, the sharpshooter that rounded out their lethal trio at Duke last season, finished with the most votes for "Best Career."
Barrett is very focused on that Rookie of the Year trophy, though, and knows the only way of obtaining it to prove everyone wrong is to continue getting his minutes in at the gym.
"(Rookie of the Year) is definitely important," he said. "It's something I've been thinking about since I was a kid. So I thought the only way to do that is to work hard."
Barrett took a little time away from his training to announce his partnership with Puma on Wednesday, as a giant billboard with his face on it across from Madison Square Garden was visibly for the Big Apple to see. He joined Kevin Knox, the Knicks' first-rounder last season, under the apparel company.
He'll be sure to get right back in the gym with training camp right around the corner. Barrett told Bondy he sees himself "as a playmaker. That's something Coack K preached to me a lot." He could easily be the team's starting two-guard, but Barrett has the ability to take the ball up the court at point guard and his size allows him to defend small forwards as well.
No matter his role this season, Barrett is determined to prove the naysayers wrong. It's nothing new to him.
"Being the Canadian kid, I've kind of been doubted my whole life," he said.
There's no doubt in anyone's mind that Barrett's production will be under a microscope all season long. Whether or not it is Rookie of the Year worthy is the big question.
Last season at Duke, Barrett averaged 22.6 points on 45.4 percent from the field with 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists over 35.3 minutes per game.