If RJ Barrett becomes a real player no. 1, he will need people around him to make the game easier to play. The most common thought is that he needs shooters who can provide space for a downhill player who needs space to operate.
What is often overlooked, however, is how much energy Barrett would be able to save with a versatile defender working alongside him.
Ntilikina has shown on several occasions that he is willing to face challenges in any position from 1 to 3. He has also shown that he is able to perform at a high level against pick and roll, which is one of the most commonly used games in modern NBA.
By providing that level of defense versatility, Ntilikina can do it so that Barrett can change and conserve energy for the offensive burden it carries.
For what it’s worth, Barrett himself said he likes to play with Ntilikina, for SNY’s Ian Begley:
“I really like it,” said Barrett playing with Ntilikina in the defense zone. “I really understand your game. (He’s a) European player – he’s kind of like I played growing up. I feel like we understand each other. “