RJ Barrett Struggles Again as Suns Beat Knicks in OT at NBA Summer League

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 7: RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks grabs the rebound against the Phoenix Suns during Day 3 of the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League on July 7, 2019 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

The New York Knicks, fresh off missing out on every marquee free agent in the offseason, are 0-2 in the Las Vegas Summer League after No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett struggled in his second straight game.

The Phoenix Suns defeated the Knicks 105-100 in overtime of Sunday’s contest, overcoming a double-digit deficit in the second half and bouncing back from New York’s 7-0 run at the end of regulation to win their first game in Sin City.

It may only be July, but there was plenty of drama down the stretch. Ignas Brazdeikis, who led both teams in scoring with 30 points, drilled a three to cap off New York’s late spurt and force the extra period. However, Jared Harper’s floater and free throws gave Phoenix enough breathing room in overtime.

The final score took a backseat to the continued play of Barrett, who shot an unseemly 3-of-15 from the field, 1-of-5 from three-point range and 1-of-4 from the free-throw line with eight turnovers on his way to just eight points.

It was a disappointing outing for the Duke product who earned All-American and first-team All-ACC honors behind 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists a night all while playing as the secondary option to Zion Williamson.

At least he put on a show before the game started with a spinning dunk in warm-ups:

It was a sign of immediate things to come, seeing as how the Knicks ran a play for him right out of the gates. He cut to the basket on a back pick and threw down an alley-oop off Brazdeikis’ lob pass on the first play of the contest.

Barrett also connected on his first three-pointer in the opening quarter, which was a welcome sign for concerned Knicks fans after he was an ugly 4-of-18 from the field and 1-of-8 from deep in the first loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The rookie didn’t hesitate to shoot during his one season at Duke (702 field-goal attempts to Williamson’s 435) and is someone who will have the ball in his hands early in his career as the potential face of the franchise after the Knicks missed on free agents such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Efficiency will be important as he becomes more accustomed to the NBA game, but it once again took a backseat after the promising start when he forced the issue with drives into traffic and continued to miss on contested threes.

New York can at least take solace knowing it is just summer league, and Barrett has plenty of time to work out the kinks before the games start counting in the standings.

He also wasn’t the only important young player to suit up for the rebuilding Knicks in Sunday’s loss.

Kevin Knox—the No. 9 pick in last year’s draft—finished with 12 points and four boards and showed flashes of his enticing potential as a versatile swingman who can develop into a key scorer. Mitchell Robinson, who averaged 2.4 blocks a night as a rookie in 2018-19, also took the floor and tallied 17 points, nine boards and two blocks.

Phoenix couldn’t match the Knicks in name recognition with notable players in Cameron Johnson and Ty Jerome sidelined after the team announced it officially completed the trades to land them on Saturday.

Johnson, the No. 11 pick in the 2019 draft, and Jerome, the No. 24 pick in the 2019 draft, are important building blocks for the Suns after their impressive collegiate careers.

The former averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in his final season with North Carolina while shooting a head-turning 45.7 percent from three-point range. It is unrealistic to expect him to hit nearly half of his triples as a rookie in the NBA, but he is the ideal shooter to take advantage of openings created by playing alongside Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton.

As for Jerome, he was one of the leaders for the national champion Virginia Cavaliers and can either play off the ball and take advantage of that same space (39.9 percent from three in 2018-19) or handle it as someone who can create for himself and others.

Without the tandem on the floor, the Suns relied on James Palmer Jr. (23 points behind 4-of-7 from deep) for much of their offense.

Phoenix will look to continue rolling Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies, while the Knicks turn their attention to a matchup with the Toronto Raptors on the same day.

NBA News

via Bleacher Report – NBA https://ift.tt/2gMI6gF

July 7, 2019 at 09:19PM

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