Could Duke freshman R.J. Barrett be the missing piece to the Phoenix Suns’ young core? Let’s take a deep dive into his game.
Even with the Phoenix Suns recent winning, it seems destined for the team to finish with a very good shot at a top pick, so it’s a good idea to look into some future players to add to an already impressive young core. One such player is none other than R.J. Barrett, a star freshman for the Duke Blue Devils.
Barrett’s versatility is one of his best assets, as he can put pressure on the defense from different areas of the floor. He’s a smooth ball handler and has a game very comparable to James Harden.
This would allow a very nice opportunity for Devin Booker to move back to the two while Barrett handles at the point. This can also work for Barrett, as he can move off the ball and allow for a more traditional point guard to run sets.
Additionally, he’s already a polished shooter, which would be a much needed upgrade on this Suns roster. This would also provide more space for players like Josh Jackson and Kelly Oubre to attack the basket and not be forced to rely on shaky shooting.
On top of that, Barrett already plays a very good slash and kick style, as he can get to the rim at will and can make sure that those corner threes for Jackson, Oubre, or even Mikal Bridges will be even more open.
As for the defensive end of the court, he has great potential, mostly due to his measurables. He stands at 6-7 and has a 6-10 wingspan to go with an impressive upper body frame and strong athleticism. These are all foundations for a good defender, and he surely can build upon that in a pro system if he puts the work in on that end of the court.
One of the main knocks against Barrett is his inconsistent decision making, with some questionable shot selection on occasion. This should not be too much of a concern for Suns fans, as most NBA players did not have the greatest shot selection in college.
He’s playing with players that he can get his shot against whenever he wants most nights, so he’s bound to have a couple bad ones. However, this hasn’t damaged his shooting numbers, making over 53 percent of his 2s and around 37 percent of his 3s.
On the other side, there still are signs for concern about his ability to share the ball with other big-time players. Especially in a back court with Devin Booker, the Suns should consider someone who would be willing to defer to some extent to Bookers ability to score. Barrett has not shown the ability to do that, despite playing with players like Zion Williamson and Cam Reddish.
All in all, Barrett’s ability to handle the ball and create off the dribble would be a welcome addition to the Suns backcourt, and he definitely has a defensive upside to consider.
However, the questions about his shot selection and fit with Booker are enough of a concern that maybe the Suns look elsewhere, specifically his Duke teammate Zion Williamson, if they were to select first.