The Toronto Raptors should be very pleased with the play of former New York Knicks wing RJ Barrett. Even as the team trades away many of their stars and tries to work with a constantly shifting array of players, Barrett's scoring chops have made him someone Toronto can lean on.
Barrett looks like a piece the Raptors will build around in 2024 and possibly beyond, as he has thrived in an expanded role. That still wasn't enough to prevent former Knicks great Carmelo Anthony from taking shots at him in the media, calling him a "bland" player on a podcast.
The main issue Anthony took with Barrett is his inconsistency from his time with the Knicks, saying that he could score four points one night and 26 the next. After proving Melo's criticism somewhat accurate by following up a four-point stinker against the Jazz with a 24-point outing, Barrett took the high road when asked about it.
"Because the next day I had four points," Barrett, who called the comments "funny" said. "The game before I had 24, so he was almost right…He's a Hall of Famer, man." Considering the numbers he has been putting up since the trade, Barrett would have been well within his rights to respond.
Toronto Raptors' RJ Barrett responds to Carmelo Anthony criticism.
The four-point game, which came at the end of a long West Coast road trip, was the only game as a Raptor where Barrett didn't score at least 14 points. In his last nine games back with the team he grew up rooting for, Barrett has scored 20 or more points seven times.
While Barrett's 3-point shooting seems to be evening out, his ability to get to the rim and finish with ease has remained as sharp as ever. Barrett has averaged 20.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game on a ridiculous 56% shooting in 12 games since being traded to Toronto.
With New York's iso-heavy offense and the immense expectations put on the former No. 3 pick, Barrett was prone to some clunkers every now and again. Toronto is giving him free reign to be the type of offensive player he wants to be, and the results have been tremendous so far.
Barrett is always going to have the "inconsistent" label slapped on him until he figures out a way to be more efficient. Given his shooting percentages in Toronto, the new trade addition is on his way to achieving that goal despite his random clunker against Utah.