Knicks head coach David Fizdale compared rookie RJ Barrett to some big company.
On Friday. Fizdale said before the Knicks' 104-102 late loss to the Celtics that the rookie reminds him of Clippers star Kawhi Leonard.
"He's really put together. There's times he's not sweating and I'm like, 'Are you going hard?'" Fizdale said "He is. He's playing really hard. The only other guy I saw who I've coached against that doesn't look like is breaking a sweat is Kawhi. Kawhi doesn't look like he's breathing (hard). RJ has that same act where he's out there, his face doesn't change and he's going about his business.''
The veteran mentality and effort from Barrett has given Fizdale the confidence to keep Barrett on the floor for near 36 minutes per game on average so far this season. Against the Celtics, Barrett played 39 minutes.
Fizdale also said before the game that he wants Barrett to play as much as possible at this time and isn't concerned about his minutes. He's impressed by the rookie's even approach during games.
"He's never out of it - no matter how he starts a game he finds a way to impact the game in a big way,'' Fizdale said. "It's hard to take him off the floor. He does so much for us."
Barrett said after the game that his team as a whole is showing that intensity early this season.
"We stayed locked in, we stayed locked in all game long. The fourth quarter we were fighting. That's the identity of our team and we did that tonight," Barrett said.
Barrett had double-digit points in the loss, 15, along with five assists, seven rebounds, and a block. But Barrett was 5-of-17 shooting. The Celtics escaped with a late win in the contest as Jayson Tatum hit the game-winning shot for the victory.
Marathon for Barrett
As you'd expect, Barrett covers a lot of ground when he's on the floor. Entering Friday, he'd averaged 2.8 miles traveled per game. That was the second highest distance travel in the NBA. Jrue Holiday and Bradley Beal led the NBA last year with 2.75 miles traveled per game last year. With the New York City marathon scheduled for Sunday, it's worth noting that Barrett, at the rate above, travels the distance of a marathon on the court every 9.4 games.
Kanter remembers NYK time fondly
Despite some acrimony at the end of his Knicks tenure, Enes Kanter said he has good memories of his time in New York.
"I had an amazing time, man," Kanter said of his time in New York. "I learned a lot on and off the court. Obviously, I played in one of the biggest organizations in the league. It was just fun to see the team grow, for me to grow. I learned a lot on and off the court. The organization made me better, made me a better person. In the end it worked out for me because I went to Portland and we made the Western Conference finals. I am blessed."
Kanter and Fizdale were at odds over the center's role/playing time last season as the Knicks opted to play other centers ahead of Kanter. The center and the Knicks eventually agreed on a buyout, and Kanter went to Portland, where he helped the Blazers reach the conference finals.
Kanter, an outspoken critic of the government in his home country of Turkey, is looking forward to playing at Madison Square Garden with the Celtics on Dec. 1. He's currently sidelined with a knee ailment.
"Of course. I mean last time I was at Madison Square Garden, I was wrestling," he said. "But yeah, man. I think it's going to be a very special moment for me. I played with those guys. They always had my back almost two years. I had an amazing time. Fans were amazing all the time. I cannot wait."