Top 3 Landing Spots for RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett entered the 2018-19 college basketball season as many experts’ sleeper pick to be the first-overall selection of the 2019 NBA Draft. While he didn’t have quite the season many expected, RJ will still be a top-5 pick this spring.
Barrett, a 6’7 combo wing, fits a big need in today’s NBA. Barrett is capable of playing as a primary ball handler as well as off the ball. Though he isn’t an elite three-point shooter, he has the ability and the mechanics to grow into a solid threat from deep shooter.
Barrett is an intriguing prospect, one that the following teams ought to take a chance on:
1). Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies arguably have the worst wing depth in the NBA. Memphis has Chandler Parsons, Bruno Caboclo, and Justin Holiday, with CJ Miles, Kyle Anderson, and Dillon Brooks all currently rehabbing injuries. Barrett would walk into a lineup that features Jaren Jackson Jr, one of the most promising young big men in the game, and seasoned veterans in Mike Conley and Jonas Valanciunas.
Barrett’s strongest skill is his ability to create, and at his size he has the advantage of being able to see over the defense. Memphis would suit Barrett especially well because he wouldn’t have to be the primary playmaker. Alongside Conley, Barrett could learn from one of the best, and improve as a passer and a ball handler.
Playing off the ball a bit will also allow Barrett to work on his long-range shot. He shot 30.8 percent on threes in college on almost seven attempts per game. He also posted a meager 66.5 percent from the free throw line.
2). Cleveland Cavaliers
With the emergence of Collin Sexton as a solid player to build around, and the veteran frontcourt of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, Barrett would slide right into a wing role alongside Cedi Osman. Like in Memphis, Barrett wouldn’t have to become the primary scoring option on offense initially, as Sexton has really stepped up in the latter half of this season and Kevin Love has remained the steady offensive force of past years since returning from injury.
Cleveland would look to use Barrett as the combo guard. Neither he nor Sexton qualify as a traditional point guard. Sexton has shown a lot of promise as a scorer; averaging 20.9 PPG on 47.7/42.9/83.1 shooting splits after the All-Star break, but has not shown the franchise PG potential that Cleveland was banking on.
Sexton has not developed into an NBA caliber point guard because of his lack of feel for the game and his passing. Of all rookie guards in NBA history with a usage rate of 25 percent or higher, Sexton finished the season with the 6th lowest assist numbers.
The Cavaliers have expressed interest in playing Sexton more off ball and pairing him with more of a pass first creator. Barrett would fit nicely next to Sexton as a player who has keen vision and a knack for setting up teammates. While a young backcourt of Sexton and Barrett might struggle from a decision-making point of view, if one of them can really take control of the offense there is a hell of a lot of potential between the two of them to be a special one, two punch.
3). Atlanta Hawks
Even with a record of 29-50, the Atlanta Hawks had by all accounts a fantastic season. Trae Young improved dramatically after a dreadful first month in the NBA, and showed that he is a star that the Hawks can build around. Young averaged 19.0 PPG 3.7 RPG and 8.1 APG, and his passing is really what was the most impressive part of his game. Only Russell Westbrook and D’Angelo Russell had better assist numbers than Young.
With such a great facilitator in charge of the Hawks offense for years to come, Barrett would be able to come in and show off some of the other facets of his game. Barrett has the potential to be a very deadly off-ball cutter, as he has the size and dexterity to maneuver around smaller players and the strength to bang with bigger ones. He also has very solid potential as a shooter, despite public opinion of Twitter scouts who seem to think his jumper will not translate to the NBA.
RJ Barrett is a prototypical wing for the modern NBA. He can pass, dribble, shoot, and cut. You can surround him with four shooters and make him the primary decision maker or you can slide him into an off ball role and have him use his high basketball IQ and size to create mismatches in other places on the court. Barrett is a very solid draft prospect and will be a great fit on any team, especially the Grizzlies, Cavs, or Hawks.