New York Knicks

RJ Barrett: The numbers and moments that made the New York Knicks rising star's breakout season

What a sophomore season it was for RJ Barrett.

After a rookie campaign of ups and downs, Barrett took a big leap in Year 2, averaging 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists for a New York Knicks team that put an end to an eight-year postseason drought.

Today, he turns 21.

As Barrett prepares to join the Canadian Senior Men's National Team at training camp in preparation for the upcoming FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, look back at some of the stats and moments that defined his sophomore campaign.

Moment: 30 ball

Up 18 on the Oklahoma City Thunder with under two minutes remaining in the game, Julius Randle found a cutting Barrett, who finished through contact to reach the 30-point plateau for the first time in his NBA career.

After sinking the free throw, Barrett finished the game with 32 points (on 12-for-21 shooting) to set a new career high.

"His a- wanted 30," Randle said of his teammate. "He's been close a couple times so I wanted to make sure he got his 30 ball … He'll have a lot more in his career. That was good for him."

With Barrett scoring 25 or more points seven times in his sophomore campaign, Randle is onto something in saying that there are plenty more 30-point games to come.

Number: 40.1

One of Barrett's biggest improvements from Year 1 to Year 2? His prowess as a 3-point shooter.

After shooting 32.0 percent from deep as a rookie, Barrett knocked down 1.7 triples per game at a 40.1 percent clip, hitting three or more 3s on 21 separate occasions.

As he continues to develop as a scorer, Barrett's shooting will unlock more parts of his offence.

Moment: RJ in the clutch

One of the highlights of the Knicks' magical season was a nine-game win streak from April 9-24.

That streak began with an overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies. In that one, Barrett finished with 20 points and five rebounds, including the game-tying bucket to send it into overtime.

In overtime, this triple put the Knicks up for good:

The Knicks have found their closer for the future.

Moment: Ice cold

Barrett has never been shy about growing up a fan of the Toronto Raptors, so the matchups will always mean a bit more. The problem? The Knicks had lost nine straight to the Raptors, including two with Barrett in the lineup.

It made him coming up in the clutch against his hometown team that much sweeter.

On April 11, New York snapped its losing streak to Toronto with a six-point win, thanks largely in part to a clutch 3-pointer from Barrett with 34 seconds remaining in the game.

Number: 72-for-72

After a sprained ankle robbed Barrett of a few weeks of his rookie season, he bounced back to appear in all 72 of the Knicks' regular season games in his sophomore campaign. Not only did Barrett appear in all 72 games, but he also averaged 34.9 minutes per game for a total of 2,511 minutes for the season, second in the entire league behind only Randle.

In a season unlike anything we've ever seen before, being available for every game is nothing to scoff at, especially at that volume.

Number: 115

Randle and Barrett proved to be a lethal combination, with New York's All-Star forward assisting Barrett a total of 115 times this past season.

For some perspective, that makes them the 10th-best assist-scorer duo in the league, per PBP Stats.

As the Knicks continue to build for the future, it's important that two of their franchise cornerstones have great chemistry on the floor. The number 115 illustrates just that.

Moment: Rising Star

Despite finishing fourth among all rookies in points per game and fifth in rebounds per game in the 2019-20 season, Barrett was a notable omission from both All-Rookie teams.

It's something he took personally.

This season, Barrett was one of 12 second-year players selected to in the Rising Stars Challenge, which wasn't held due to time constraints at the 2021 All-Star Weekend. In Year 2, Barrett surpassed a number of players that received an All-Rookie nod above him.

Moment: Playoff debut

Barrett is a key piece of a resurgent Knicks team that finally returned to the postseason stage for the first time since 2013.

While New York's time in the playoffs was short-lived, Barrett recorded a double-double in his first-ever playoff game, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes of action. As pointed out by Brian Swane, it was the most rebounds ever from a Canadian in their playoff debut.

Moment: The dunk

… I can't mention the playoff debut without the dunk that sent shockwaves throughout Madison Square Garden. Because, wow.

It's hard to quantify, but it might be the best dunk in a playoff debut ever.

Just like the 30-point games, it's the first of many to come.

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