According to sources, some Knicks thought David Fizdale did not hold 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox accountable enough as a rookie. Fizdale won’t make the same mistake with current lottery pick, RJ Barrett.
Fizdale said he’ll “probably be tougher on RJ. I think this team is more talented, I think we have more guys he has to fight with to get those minutes. But I think the kid is up for it. I think he’s the kind of competitor that embraces it.’’
Despite being taken third overall, Barrett could be in a dogfight for the starting shooting-guard position.
“I want coach to be tough on me,’’ Barrett said. “That’s the only way I feel, if you’re pushed, it will make you play better.”
Commenting on Barrett’s play in the July summer league for the first time, president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry said they liked his resiliency. He bounced back after a terrible first two games. He still finished shooting just 34 percent — 24 percent from 3.
“The thing that really struck all of us is that the first couple of games he struggled mainly with his shooting,’’ Perry said. “What you want to see from a young player is how they respond in adversity. That was his first taste of it in a while. We really were pleased how he finished those last few games. I think what he showed us and what he showed the basketball community is that he can do more than just score. He rebounded the ball very well, passed very effectively.”
Barrett closed with a near triple-double but his outside shooting could use work. Mills said he’s been working out fiercely since Las Vegas.
“We saw what you saw on the court with RJ during summer league but we were with him every day off the court, and one thing — his confidence never wavered,’’ Mills said. “So for him to be able to hit that wall and never lose faith in himself, that was a very good sign for us and him in his development.”
Barrett comes in with massive hype as the No. 3 pick after playing for Duke. He admits already that he’s in for a battle for minutes.
“Everybody can play,’’ Barrett said.
As for the mega hype, Barrett said, “I don’t care. I just go and play basketball. All the media stuff, it’s about looking forward to playing the game I love.”
The Knicks can only hope his start equals that of a fellow Duke rookie, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones.
“I’ve never actually spoken to him,’’ Barrett said. “I’m really happy to see him doing well. As a team we went to Duke football games. I’d love to go to a Giants game.’’