BY: MICHAEL MAXCY
R.J. Barrett 6'7", 202lbs, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Duke
Explosive first step
Barrett has shown an explosive first step in getting to the rack. The lefty likes to put the ball on the floor and uses his quickness and agility to get by his defender. He uses a jab step to get his defender off guard which allows him to get to the rim effectively. He has also worked on his range from that jab step to keep the defender on his toes.
Barrett is best when he gets to the rim. He is so explosive off the dribble, he gets by his defender usually ending in a dunk. He also has shown the ability to fight through contact and finish with three point play opportunities.
Excels in open floor
This seems like an obvious strengths for most wings, but Barrett is so dangerous on the break, either leading it or from the wing position. He is such an unselfish and willing passer, which makes him so difficult to defend on the break. If teams see Barrett involved in a fast break, it is likely going to end in a Duke dunk.
An under rated aspect of his game is his defensive ability. He has long arms and is very good as causing deflections, which usually leads to a transition opportunity. His man defense is good and should translate well at the next level.
I already mentioned his passing ability on the break, but Barrett is so unselfish with the ball and is more than willing to give it up which shows at his nearly 4 assists a game. Barrett draws so much attention and likes to drive the lane and feed whichever big man is open or swing it out to the open three point shooter.
Three point shooting
Even though Barrett shoots a solid 46% for a wing, his perimeter shooting is not good at this point. His jumper needs some work as it doesn't look fluid. His form is good, but he fails to get the rotation on his jumper and pushes it instead of getting the proper release needed to make the shot.
Free throw shooting
Once again this all stems back to him not getting the spin on the ball. He shoots a weak 66% for a player who attacks the basket and gets to the line a bunch. I fully expect once he gets to the league he will improve his shot and hopefully raise the free throw percentage.
Needs to cut down on turnovers
Sometimes Barrett gets a little out of control with his passes or driving the lane. He needs to cut down on his errant passes and avoid getting charges as he barrels into the lane.
His game resembles Spurs swingman DeRozan a lot although Barrett is a lefty. I think he projects to be a better player than DeRozan, but the similarities in their game are so close. They measure out at almost the same at 6 foot 7 and just over 200 pounds. And like Barrett, DeRozan had a suspect jumper coming into the league and has improved that part of his game tremendously.
It is probably more like 1 or 2, but I see no way he slides out of top five barring a serious injury. Barrett was the consensus number 1 recruit out of high school and likely is fighting with teammate Zion Williamson for the chance to be the number 1 pick in June.
Michael Maxcy is a contributor for The Up&Under.