RJ Barrett (Rank 8, Tier 3)
6’7/6’10 wingspan/202 pounds/19 years/FR
I guess I have some explaining to do. Typically every year there’s at least one overhyped prospect and my choice this draft is RJ Barrett. I understand that he might not have been in the best situation at Duke since they didn’t have much shooting so let’s just focus on the facts. Barrett shot 30.8% from three, 66.5% from the free throw line and excluding post-ups 52.2% around the basket. He wasn’t a particularly good off-ball player posting a .952 points per possession on all catch-and-shoot chances which ranked 41st percentile, .689 points per possession on “off-screen” situations which ranked 22nd percentile and .949 points per possession on all “cut” plays which ranked 24th percentile. So he wasn’t a good shooter, has questionable touch and can’t do much off ball? Basically he better be the primary creator on whatever team he goes to because if not I question what role he’s going to play. I guess either people are just hoping for substantial improvement or they really think the Duke situation was that bad.
So let’s go over the tape. One of Barrett’s skills are his playmaking ability. He uses his height to look over the defense and toss skip, pocket and over the top passes around the floor. He’s pretty solid at the two-man game between ball handler and roll man. Though I wouldn’t call him a primary ball handler but more of a tertiary ball handler due to his average feel and problems with misdiagnosing plays. He’s decent at live-dribble but he’s not really a shifty ball handler. He can use euro steps, cross steps and behind the back dribble drive moves but make no mistake Barrett is a power driver. He has long, strong strides on his drive and can dip his shoulder into the defender to dislodge for space. His hips aren’t that fluid and he tends to straight line drive in the paint with his left hand. A lot of times on layups he would switch the ball from right to left hand while midair wasting motion in this manner. I guess he doesn’t trust his right hand all that much yet but that will be a problem if not remedied.
On defense he’s a decent on-ball defender, a questionable team defender and below average at defensive creation. He’s best when on-ball locked in, sitting down in his stance and remaining balanced. He’s listed at 6’7 with a 6’10 wingspan and a good not great athlete. That physical profile helps him well defending dribble drive moves. Although at times his positioning and footwork would be off giving Barrett a tough time to adjust on the fly. He can make initial rotations weak side and help defense but struggles to process the next move. He’s slow to identify his man off a scramble, will lazily fly by for closeouts at times and get lost looking for his matchup while defending early offense. He has average instincts on defense and isn’t much for creating events. He averaged 1.5 blocks+steals per 40 minutes. Not impressive numbers for an NBA wing.
One of the reasons why I like Jarrett Culver so much is growth potential. If you look at his high school senior season, freshman season and this past season he grew exponentially. If you look at Barrett since the FIBA U19 World Cup in 2017 how much has he grown since then? He’s pretty much the same player while Culver was the 43rd ranked shooting guard in ESPN’s 2017 class and now he’s a possible top five pick. I just think this is who Barrett is. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that but I just think at pick three you want more growth potential. I mean he’s still in my top 10 so it’s not like I’m going overboard with criticism…I think.
* All stats provided by Synergy Sports Tech and Hoop-Math*