RJ Barrett had just endured another tough night of shooting Friday against Portland, starting off 3-for-14 before finishing 6-for-22 (1-for-7 from beyond the arc). It is a problem that has lasted much of the season, and he was asked if it is weighing on his confidence.
“I took 22 of them,” Barrett said. “Didn’t I?”
That’s a simple but true declaration of his confidence, something that has never been lacking for Barrett. But not so simple is figuring out why he has experienced this latest regression.
In his second season, Barrett shot 44.1% overall and 40.1% from beyond the arc. Last season, he dipped to 40.8% from the field and 34.2% from three-point range.
Through 19 games this season, he has struggled to a career-worst 39.4% overall and 26.4% from beyond the arc. And in the last seven games? He has shot 31.6% overall and 16.7% from three-point range. With the 1-for-7 performance from outside the arc on Friday, he has gone 6-for-36 in that span (and he missed his last one in the previous game, too).
This isn’t exactly something new. Barrett has gone through ups and downs with his shooting since he entered the NBA — and even before he entered, some scouts wondered if he would be a good enough shooter to succeed at a level worthy of the No. 3 overall pick.
But confidence has never been a problem for Barrett, and he isn’t concerned.
“I’m fine,” he said. “Don’t worry about me. I’m fine . . . They’re going to have to [fall] at some point. For the most part, I like the shots I got. I got some open ones I missed. Some of them, I went in and tried to get fouled. They didn’t call it. So got to clean up those.”
“Keep working at it,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ve got to trust the process of working your way through things, get in the gym, put in the extra work. It’s all you can do.
“It was a hard game for us to adjust to and we didn’t adjust the way we could have or should have. On a lot of the drives I thought he had in the first half, he was looking to draw fouls instead of just attacking the rim. Put the onus on the officials to make the calls, because we weren’t getting any of those. He gets some easy buckets, it’s different.”
The Trail Blazers had 51 free-throw attempts, and Barrett attempted to draw fouls, too. “They were getting everything,” he said. “I thought I would get some. Second half, I started going in more aggressively, trying to finish. I played a little better.
“I’m cool. I always watch the film to see where I could’ve done a better job. But I’m cool.”
Jalen Brunson did not practice Saturday and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, who just returned Ja Morant to the lineup. Brunson suffered a right quadriceps contusion Friday. Cam Reddish (groin) and Derrick Rose (toe) remain questionable.
The Knicks quickly have become reliant on Brunson’s overall offensive contributions, but he has taken on a particularly heavy scoring load in the last two games — scoring 34 to match his regular-season career-best Monday at Oklahoma City and following that with 32 points Friday against Portland.
When the Knicks convened at training camp for their annual media day, it was not just a chance for media to interview players and preview the season but also for players to go through a gantlet of photo opportunities for team and NBA outlets.
One of those sessions included a member of the Knicks Digital staff, Tom Garbett, shooting pictures of the players with a film camera. Jericho Sims liked the way those photos came out, so he asked Garbett about them and expanded his game.
“I just liked the pictures so I wanted to try,” Sims said.
So he went out and purchased a used film camera, nothing too fancy, and brought it with him on the team’s five-game road trip to try his hand at photography. But there’s a problem with going old-school — he still hasn’t had a chance to get the film developed.
What has developed is his on-court contributions. While Tom Thibodeau has insisted he would prefer to play only two centers, Sims has found his way into the last three games since Mitchell Robinson returned from a sprained right knee. On Friday, he actually started the overtime session for the Knicks, getting the nod over Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein.