GREENBURGH, N.Y. — RJ Barrett didn’t lose his sixth game at Duke last season until the final game of his one-year college career. The 68-67 loss to Michigan State in the East Regional Final sent Barrett into the NBA Draft, where he was selected third overall by the Knicks.
It took the Knicks seven games for Barrett to lose his sixth game as a pro. But the 19-year-old insists he’s having the time of his life.
"The season, for me, has been amazing,” Barrett said on Tuesday after practice. “I feel so blessed every day. Even today in practice, I was on the court and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m really here.’ I just feel so blessed and fortunate to play every day. So the season’s been great for me so far.”
Barrett attended Monday’s night’s Giants-Cowboys game at MetLife Stadium and watched fellow Duke product Daniel Jones and the Giants lose to Dallas, 37-18. The Giants are 2-7 and Jones is going through some of the same losing and growing pains that Barrett is experiencing in the NBA.
“My man, DJ,” Barrett said. “He’s doing his thing. Definitely good to see a Duke guy coming into New York, just like me, doing his thing. It was good . . . It was cool. I definitely enjoyed it a lot. The crowd was crazy, there, too, so it was fun to watch.”
The Knicks departed after practice to Detroit, where they face the Pistons on Wednesday. On Friday, it’s a reunion with Kristaps Porzingis in Dallas before the next home game against Cleveland on Sunday.
Barrett, who leads the Knicks in minutes at 37.1 per game, will see more time at point guard during the two-game road trip.
Elfrid Payton (hamstring) will not make the trip. Dennis Smith Jr. may rejoin the team, but is not expected to play after missing time following the death of his stepmother.
So Frank Ntilikina will start at the point and Barrett, who is averaging 18.3 points, will continue to see major minutes. He played 40:44 in Sunday’s 113-92 blowout loss to the Kings, which led to coach David Fizdale saying “drop it already” when he was asked about the rookie’s mounting time on the court.
“Coach said ‘drop it,’ “ Barrett said. “You just got to drop it. If coach wants to play me, I’m going to play.”
Asked he was happy to be playing that much, Barrett smiled and said: “Would you be happy? Of course. Like I said, I feel really blessed just to be in this position.”
Win or lose. And lose and lose and lose . . . it’s not going to get Barrett down.
“[This season] has exceeded my expectations,” he said. “Obviously, just learning. I’ve grown so much already. I can’t wait to see what the rest of my career is like.”
Robinson to start. Fizdale said Mitchell Robinson will start at center against the Pistons after a one-game experiment with Bobby Portis starting in the middle didn’t work at all vs. Sacramento. Fizdale said he wanted Robinson to face Detroit’s rugged Andre Drummond.