Left-handed Knicks rookie RJ Barrett says he’s right handed
Knicks rookie RJ Barrett is putting up nice counting stats — 13.9 points and 5.1 rebounds a game — but it’s not been pretty. He’s shooting 39.1 percent overall, 31.1 percent from three, and like those numbers, his true shooting percentage of 46.6 is well below the season average.
Is that because the left-handed Barrett is actually right-handed?
He said he is, speaking to the media on Wednesday. Via Laura Albanese of Newsday:
RJ Barrett just informed us that he’s actually a righty and has better shooting form with his right. Just more comfortable shooting with his left. Huh.— Laura Albanese (@AlbaneseLaura) February 26, 2020
Barrett said he does everything with his right hand, but grew up feeling more ambidextrous. His mom is a lefty, so he picked up some of her habits.— Laura Albanese (@AlbaneseLaura) February 26, 2020
This is not the first time Barrett has said this. Before last year’s draft — where he was taken No. 3 by the Knicks — he told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith he was a righty.
Barrett would not be the first player to switch hands, Tristan Thompson did it a few years back, and a year later his shooting percentage did improve (switching hands has been suggested for Ben Simmons and others).
Barrett has been inefficient this season, but that’s to be expected with a rookie, especially one asked to take on too much playmaking responsibility (on a team that was overloaded with forwards, his natural position, so he was asked to be more of a guard). Throw in a coaching change (and a management change) and let’s just say Barrett didn’t enter an NBA environment fertile for growth. Barrett’s shot selection needs work, he’s not blameless, but the Knicks have not been a strong player development franchise. Barrett suffers for that.
Barrett got to be an elite recruit and the No. 3 pick shooting left handed, and he should do what he is more comfortable with. What will matter more is summer work, getting in reps with a good shooting coach, and just adjusting to the NBA game.
Now that this is out there, however, it’s going to come up every time he misses a jumper.