Nearly two years ago, R.J. Barrett broke out onto the scene with a historic performance for Team Canada in the FIBA U19 Semifinal against Team USA. On his way to pouring in 38 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists on 12-of-24 shooting, Barrett established himself as the No. 1 prospect for the 2018 recruiting class ahead of even the enigma that is Zion Williamson.
Ironically enough, Barrett ended up forming his own superteam of sorts during his one year at Duke University when Williamson and Cam Reddish joined him as the top three recruits nationwide. The thing is, Barrett quickly fell off that pedestal of No. 1 prospect once Williamson had logged five or so minutes in Duke’s season opener and you realized how truly special he was.
Even though Barrett took a backseat to Williamson from a publicity standpoint, the Canadian wing still ended up averaging 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 45.4/30.8/66.5 shooting splits this season. Those numbers weren’t produced without some trials and tribulations along the way, though.
Barrett was more of a high-usage ball-stopper than he was a smooth fit with his teammates, in my opinion. Attempting 18.5 shots per game, including 5.9 free throws, Barrett was shooting the ball usually over 20-plus times. 36.3 percent of the games he played for Duke, the 6’7” wing attempted at least 20 shots (4/12 were without Williamson on the floor). Not many players in the Sports-Reference database even come close to the offensive profile Barrett produced from a usage and efficiency point of view either.
Even though Barrett produced in the box score, his absurdly high 32.2 USG% doesn’t correlate with an average 53.2 TS%. Truly, he’s such an interesting case study not only from the Suns’ perspective but also from a pure scouting angle as well.
The comparisons for Barrett I’ve seen are all over the place. Some call him a lankier James Harden with his 6’10” wingspan. Others label him as the next Andrew Wiggins. Honestly, I have no idea where to place Barrett in that spectrum either after diving in on more film of him from Team Canada, Montrose Academy and Duke.