Looking at RJ Barrett’s shooting profile during his rookie season, there is significant room for improvement. Barrett fired 39.2% of his shots within 3 feet, but only 56.8%, according to NBA.com. Barrett fired 33.8% of his shots in the low to mid range, but with a clip of less than 30%. Barrett fired 27.1% of his shots beyond the three-point arc, but only with 32% accuracy.
As a point of disclaimer, the Knicks fielded a suboptimal line-up during the 2019-20 season. They weren’t a very good perimeter shooting team, further amplified by being a final third in all three-point metrics. This meant Barrett entered the lane and was in a group of defenders, often resulting in very bad mistakes on or near the edge.
There are some areas where Barrett can leverage his strengths. For example, Barrett was a 37.5% shooter from position 3 in the left corner. Of the 3.5 threes per game, Barrett only attempted 20% of those shots from the left corner 3. His favorite shot was the 3 above the interval, where he only attempted most of his shots with a clip. 30%.
In his first radio interview after the initial press conference, Thibs specifically emphasized corner 3 in the following quote:
If you are getting layups and hitting the free throw line and obviously trying to create as many corner 3-point attempts as possible, this is how you win.
A good starting point for Barrett is to reassign some of his three-point attempts to corner the three. By simply taking more from the left corner, Barrett can potentially become a 35% three-point shooter, not a bad sign for an NBA player. As a result, this also distances the floor a little better for the rest of his teammates. Barrett shows how valuable the threat of a corner 3 can be earlier this season in a defeat to leading seed Milwaukee Bucks.
Thibs can help reinforce the importance of making faster decisions. Additionally, a more robust point guard option and better perimeter scoring threats can limit many of RJ’s bad shooting choices while also clearing the floor to allow him to drive into the paint and take higher quality shots. Thibs has experience working with rather imperfect perimeter shooting wings in Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins. RJ is sure to be an interesting project.