With the Knicks settling into a season without the starpower the front office envisioned, RJ Barrett is set to be the focal point as the team’s highest draft pick since Patrick Ewing.
But the 19-year-old doesn’t seem eager to rush to ascension. When asked about leading the Knicks this season, he turned the answer to the team.
“We got a squad,” he said in a brief conference call from Vegas. “I’m just a rookie coming in and just really do as much as I can to help the team.”
Barrett will get his first action in a Knicks uniform on Friday in the Summer League opener against his good buddy Zion Williamson. It’s the prime showdown in Vegas and compelling for a couple of reasons:
- Williamson is already being labeled a transformational talent who happened to be the object of Knicks fans’ affections for most of last season.
- It pits two good friends — Barrett and Williamson — against one another after they spent last season at Duke.
“I just laughed (when I saw the schedule),” Barrett said. “It’s funny that my first game ever in my new uniform is against my guy. So I’m just excited to play.”
Barrett and the rest of the Knicks’ Summer League squad gathered for practice Tuesday. He called it “high intensity” but seemed uninterested in discussing specifics or what he hopes to demonstrate in Summer League.
“It was one practice, so you can’t really tell much,” Barrett said. “I was really just trying to learn. That’s what I came in for really. That’s about it.”