Contrary to what social media might tell you, RJ Barrett is not a bust. Let me be the one to offer the short list of reasons why. He's 19 years old, playing basketball for the first time in a few months, and has just three games under his belt … in the Summer League.
First impressions are everything, and Barrett's wasn't exactly pretty. In his first two games, he made just 21 percent (7-for-33) of his shots and went 2-for-13 from beyond the arc. His shot selection, turnovers and, well, a lot, were rough.
"No frustration. It's just basketball, it happens," Barrett said calmly and confidently to reporters after the loss to Toronto. "It happened at Duke, it's happening here. It's just basketball, that's how the game is."
His third game, however, marked a turnaround. The Canadian product finished the night with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. Though his shots varied (6-for-14 from the field and 1-for-4 from three), the performance against the Raptors was undoubtedly a step in the right direction after a disappointing start.
Is he worrying about the up-and-down three game stretch (mind you, the first of his career)? Not one bit.
It's the right mentality to have. He's reiterated that he hasn't seen game action since Duke, and that it's going to be a mission to get better every day.
"It's exactly what I anticipated. It's the NBA Summer League, everybody's out here fighting," Barrett remarked. "It's been a great experience for me."
Barrett's words are ones that fans should remember -- concrete conclusions shouldn't be taken from these games. They've never really been indicators of how players go on to perform down the road. Barrett certainly isn't the only high profile draft pick to struggle out of the gate. In fact, a number of notable names disappointed in their Summer league debuts.
Barrett through first three games: 30.7 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.7 APG, 28 FG%
2019 stats: 19.1 PPG, 41.8 FG%, 8.1 APG, 3.7 RPG
Through three games in the Salt Lake City league last summer, the 2018 No. 5 overall lacked a competent shot. He mustered a 23.1 percent field goal percentage (lower than Barrett), and averaged 12.6 PPG. His three point shot was off, too, as he shot just 12.5 percent (3-for-24) from beyond the arc.
Despite the poor scoring numbers, Young dished out four assists per game and was able to flash the playmaking abilities that made him famous at Oklahoma. And it's safe to say no one remembers his rough Summer League start. He established himself as the centerpiece of Atlanta's rebuild, while earning All-Rookie First Team honors and finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Luka Doncic.
Marvin Bagley III
2019 stats: 14.9 PPG, 50.4 FG%, 1.0 APG, 7.6 RPG
Like Barrett, Bagley is a lefty from Duke. He was highly touted coming out of college and was promptly made the second overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in last year's draft. But the Summer League wasn't kind to him.
Through four games, he averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 boards while totaling just two assists. He shot a paltry 31 percent from the field and made only one of his 10 attempted three-pointers. Bagley was inconsistent through the first few months of his rookie year, but was able to turn things around by seasons' end. He finished the year with 19 double-doubles and earned a spot on the All-Rookie First Team.
2019 stats: 10.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 46.5 FG%, 45.5 3P%
Before he was a two-time NBA champion, Green was a second round pick fighting for his chance on an NBA roster. In the 2009 Summer League, he made just 36.4 percent of his shots, good for 8.2 PPG. From the three point line (an area he now makes his living in), he made just five of 17 attempts.
Green also committed 11 turnovers in 102.3 minutes that summer. His early shooting struggles can serve as a roadmap for a player like Barrett, proving that developing the right stroke and proper shot selection takes time.