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RJ Barrett's hard work paying off for Knicks

Knicks guard RJ Barrett shoots over Wizards guard

Knicks guard RJ Barrett shoots over Wizards guard Bradley Beal during the second half of an NBA game on March 23, 2021 at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP/Vincent Carchietta

RJ Barrett was one of the finalists for Eastern Conference Player of the Week last week when it went to Charlotte’s Terry Rozier, but he has still not gotten over the award he feels he really was slighted by. Last season Barrett was left off the All-Rookie team — first and second team. After being drafted third overall he was confident that there were not 10 players better than him in his draft class and his play this year has stated his case for him.

"I think you see it," Barrett said. "I think everybody sees it. Been working my butt off, producing on the court. I don’t know what else to say. I still think it’s crazy. All I can do is just continue to play well. The team’s playing well. That’s all that really matters."

Thibodeau believes in Toppin

Obi Toppin has struggled to find a role on the Knicks, his minutes limited and his play spotty at best. But Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau expressed confidence in what Toppin is doing.

"It’s been really good," he said. "He put in a lot of extra time into his practice and preparation. And it’s showing when it’s on the floor. I want him to continue to build on that. We knew there would be ups and downs in his first year. It’s a big adjustment from the college to the pros, not having summer league and also playing behind Julius [Randle] there’s not a lot of time there. He’s an upbeat kid and a really hard worker."


Rose gets a rest

The Knicks were without Derrick Rose, who was ruled out with a sore left ankle. Rose had played 29 and 26 minutes in his first two games back after being in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols.

Thibodeau dismissed the question of whether Rose might ascend to the starting lineup when he’s back.

"The one good thing we have with our team is our depth," Thibodeau said. "You have guys who are versatile who can play with both units. We can mix and match. We’ve thought about everything and how the groups function with each other. Who starts isn’t as important as who finishes. So guys who are going well will be the ones who finish."

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