Locally, RJ Barrett will garner a lot of attention this season. He's the Knicks' highest draft pick in more than 30 years. And the team didn't sign any top free agents this summer. So Barrett's progress as a rookie will be one of the most important storylines of the Knicks' season.
Trae Young can relate. The Hawks guard dealt with a heavy dose of attention in his first year in the NBA.
And he believes Barrett will handle the scrutiny that comes with being a top pick in NBA just fine.
"I mean, RJ's handled a lot of attention, from high school to now, great. The way he's performed, the way he's put in work," Young said Wednesday at the NBPA/Five-Star Camp at Basketball City. "For me, if I could give him any advice it's just to remain who he is and focus on the important things: that's playing basketball, that's getting better every day. And enjoy everything else as far as letting everything else fall behind what you're here for, which is playing basketball. If he's playing well, if he's working out, if he's doing (those) things, everything else is going to take care of itself. It's going to be a lot easier to handle.
"But when everything starts to drift off and other things start to come between basketball (being) the most important thing, then he'll struggle. But with his circle and his godfather being Steve Nash and the people in his ear, I don't think he's going to have any hard times out here."
In a perfect world for the Knicks, Barrett excels as a rookie and becomes an important part of a strong young core in New York. Young's ascension in Atlanta, coupled with the play of John Collins and Kevin Heurter, is one reason analysts are bullish on the Hawks' future.
Young said on Wednesday that he believes Atlanta can be a playoff team this season. He also discussed the Nets adding Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during his chat with reporters.
"That team did an unbelievable job last season of getting in the playoffs. They have a tremendous coach. It's not just their players. With Durant and Kyrie, that's an unbelievable duo," he said.
Here's Young on several other topics from his interview on Wednesday:
On new Net and former Hawk Taurean Prince:
"He can bring a lot. Taurean is a tremendous player. He brings a lot of skill on the court with his ability to shoot and pass. He's very smart. I think that goes very underrated. He knows how to make plays and when to make plays. As far as off the court, he was very helpful for me. I know Brooklyn doesn't have a lot of young guys, but off the court, he's a guy that's not going to be in trouble and going to be low key. As far as a teammate, he's a good person and a good player to be around. I think Taurean is going to have a great season in Brooklyn."
On the Hawks' rise:
"I think for us we heard a lot about the rebuilding and all about it's going to take a while for us to get back to winning and doing big things. But for us we just want to speed up the process. Obviously, we want to be in the playoffs. I think for us, watching the playoffs this year -- especially for me -- it hurt. Like, I wanted to play; I wanted to keep playing. So for me, that's what I've been focusing on this summer, is how I can help my team, how I can build that camaraderie with this young team to help us get there, and speed up the process that everybody is talking about."
On interacting with the campers at the NBPA/Five-Star camp:
"It's very important, I think coming into the league, I knew that my platform and my ability to touch others and impact others would be even bigger than it was in college. For me, any time I can do something like this and come back and put smiles on kids' faces just from me being in the building, I'm going to do it."
On the Hawks' draft:
"I think we hit a home run in the draft, even getting Bruno (Fernando) in the second round. With us being able to get Cam (Reddish) at 10, I think that's a big steal. I thought when we traded and had the 10th pick, I didn't think we were going to get Cam because I saw him play in high school and his talent. So us getting him is big for us"And DeAndre (Hunter), I mean his talent speaks for itself. Defensive ability, his ability to knock down open shots, and just make plays."
Bullock should be fine after surgery:
Reggie Bullock underwent surgery last week for a cervical disc herniation. The Knicks said the surgery was successful. Bullock is expected to miss at least the first month of the regular season, per SNY sources. But, as long as he didn't undergo a fusion, he should be fine in due time.
"Minimally invasive procedures such as foraminotomies can have return to play within a few weeks, as can cervical disc replacements," says Dr. Ronald Lehman, a spine surgeon at the New York-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital. "I have had many patients return to high level athletic competition within weeks after disc replacement surgery, had them jump out of airplanes and return to combat several months later.
The specific procedure Bullock underwent is unknown. After agreeing to a two-year, $21 million contract, Bullock and the Knicks re-worked their deal once the medical issue arose. The free agent signed a two-year, $8.2 million deal with New York.
Lehman offered some insight into how long it would take an athlete who undergoes surgery for a cervical disc herniation to get cleared for contact.
"For fusions, it would take several months or longer to be "cleared" for contact sports," Lehman says. "For decompression surgery or foraminotomies, it could be as soon as several weeks.