Knicks’ RJ Barrett enters Olympics 2021 qualifying eyeing medal

No relaxation for the weary.

In his second NBA season, RJ Barrett performed in all 72 video games for the Knicks, then all 5 video games of their first-round playoff sequence vs. Atlanta that ended June 2.

Less than a month later, the Knicks’ No. 3 choose in 2019 might be again on the courtroom Tuesday because the beginning taking pictures guard for Team Canada because it faces Greece (minus Giannis Antetokounmpo) in Victoria, British Columbia.

Canada is internet hosting a six-team Olympic qualifying match for the rights to enter the Tokyo Olympics in late July, with all of the video games airing on ESPN+. Only one nation will advance.

Barrett’s Canadian squad will even face China Wednesday earlier than the subsequent spherical towards both Turkey, Czech Republic or Uruguay.

Team Canada head coach Nick Nurse, who coaches the Raptors, was impressed by Barrett’s progress in his second season.

“He’s playing in a major market at a very young age and he just kept plugging away at it,” Nurse mentioned on Zoom final week. “I just keep saying, ‘He’s 21.’ Anything’s possible for this guy where he’s at right now. He made a huge leap this year. There’s some pretty good grown men playing in the league that he’s playing in. So to make a leap like that says a lot about him.”

Knicks RJ Barrett Olympics 2021 Canada
RJ Barrett of the Knicks will play for Team Canada in an Olympics qualifying match.
Getty Images

Training camp started in Tampa final week. Barrett was holed up in his resort on his twenty first birthday on June 14 awaiting camp.

“That was annoying,” Barrett advised Canadian reporters on a Zoom name final week with amusing. “No, it was cool. I was just on the phone with everybody, family and stuff. Everybody made me feel special so it wasn’t too bad.”

Barrett grew up on the outskirts of Toronto – in Mississauga. His father Rowan, the previous St. John’s standout, is Team Canada’s GM.

Yes, this implies a lot to Barrett. Team Canada hasn’t made the Olympics for the reason that Sydney, Australia Games in 2000 – however has eight NBA gamers on the squad, together with Andrew Wiggins, Dwight Powell, Trey Lyles and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Barrett has performed for 2 flagship basketball entities in Duke and the Knicks. But he admitted this was “the most special” occasion in his profession.

“I always cherish that,” Barrett mentioned. “No one can ever take that away from me and no one can ever take that away from my country. I say that with great pride. It’s also why I’m here right now. I’m trying to bring that feeling back to Canada, bring a medal back home. I think this is perfect timing, I think we’ll be good.”

Improving his 3-point taking pictures from 32 p.c to 40.1 p.c, Barrett averaged 17.6 factors, 5.8 rebounds and three assists in his second season, however had a disappointing playoffs. Despite averaging 14.4 factors vs. Atlanta, he shot simply 38.8 p.c general – 28 p.c from 3.

The Knicks are enthusiastic about this expertise for Barrett on one other big-time stage – irrespective of how lengthy it lasts.

“He’s picking up everything just like that,” Nurse mentioned. “He’s got kind of an infectious energy that he practices with. He’s been really active and energetic and focused, concentrated, and smart.”

FIBA guidelines enable for extra bodily contact than the NBA, however Barrett isn’t anxious.

“Playing in the NBA, I feel like I understand just a little bit more about the game of basketball,” Barrett mentioned. “Even concepts, I’m able to pick up on things faster, I’m able to see a little bit more.”

Barrett isn’t the Knicks’ solely Olympian. While Julius Randle wasn’t chosen for Team USA’s roster, Frank Ntilikina is again on Team France, which has already certified and begun coaching camp.

In addition, new Knicks level guard signee Luca Vildoza is in Las Vegas with the Argentinean Olympic workforce. Argentina is holding its coaching camp in Vegas as a result of COVID-19 charges are greater in that nation.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.