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New York Knicks

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet on New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett: 'He's got a bright future ahead of him'

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RJ Barrett [NBA Getty Images]

The Toronto Raptors handed the New York Knicks a loss in Toronto native R.J. Barrett's first game in his home country.

The Knicks No. 2 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft had a decent game, going for 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals but struggled against the Raptors tough-nosed defence, shooting 5-for-17 (29.4%) from the field and 2-for-8 (25.0%) from beyond the arc.

MORE: Takeaways from Raptors win over Barrett, Knicks

After the game, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet shared a moment with the New York rookie, sharing some thoughtful words after what has been a tough start to the season for Knicks.

Barrett has been solid and has had some serious bright spots - he's averaging 15.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game - but the Knicks are struggling, tied for last place in the Eastern Conference with the Atlanta Hawks at 4-14.

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Following the win for the Raptors, TSN's Josh Lewenberg spoke with VanVleet on what he had to say to the 19-year-old Canadian.

"He's good, man. He's good," the Raptors guard told TSN. "He's going to be a good young player in this league. I don't speak on these things too much, but the potential is in his hands.

"Everybody will write about him in New York, so that's its own problem there," VanVleet continued. "You just want to support him and wish him a healthy career."

The criticism hasn't been violent of Barrett, who has played well but isn't on a team exactly destined for success. VanVleet likes what he's seen of Barrett, though, and believes he has a bright future.

"He's got the tools. He's a nice, big, strong player that's smart.

"I told him after the game, 'just don't wait. Don't wait, just go try to be whoever you're going to be and keep building for that.' He's got a bright future ahead of him."

Those words of encouragement must mean a lot coming from a player who went undrafted and worked like crazy to get where he is at now in his career.

You can catch Barrett in action next on Friday when the Knicks return home to host the Philadelphia 76ers.

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