Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
After all of the last-minute workouts with other players, the Knicks did what we expected them to do on Thursday night: They selected Duke's RJ Barrett with the No. 3 overall pick.
The hope is that Barrett can develop into one of the key pieces of a Knicks rebuild. New York adds Barrett to a roster filled with young prospects such as Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier and Dennis Smith Jr.
The Knicks also hope to land a star in free agency -- they'll be aggressive in pursuing Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard -- but in Barrett, they've secured one of the top players in the 2019 NBA Draft.
The 6-foot-7 Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 4.3 assists and 7.6 rebounds as a freshman -- the first player in NCAA history to have at least 850 points, 250 rebounds and 150 assists in a season. He said his game has improved significantly since his college season ended. Scouts and evaluators have wondered about Barrett's shot and ability to get by defenders on the perimeter.
"You don't even know. I've been working so hard every day. I've gotten a lot better," he said on Wednesday. "And I'm really excited and happy where I am right now."
Barrett said in several interviews that he wanted to be a Knick, and he refused to work out for Memphis, in part because of his desire to land in New York.
He seems to have the persona and hard shell to handle the high expectations of being a top Knicks pick, which is not an insignificant factor.
New York had worked out Vanderbilt's Darius Garland and UNC's Coby White shortly before the draft in case they were presented with a strong offer to trade down, or to obtain a second first-round pick. They clearly did not get an offer they'd liked in a potential trade down.
The Knicks also have the 55th pick in the second round.