Like any NBA rookie, RJ Barrett has struggled.
While averaging 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists, Barrett entered Sunday's road game against the Los Angeles Clippers shooting 38.3 percent from the field, 31.1 percent on three-point attempts and 55.4 percent at the free-throw line.
Barrett left the Knicks' hard-fought 135-132 loss to the Clippers with a bounce-back performance, dropping 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting and a 9-for-11 mark from the charity stripe, coming after a timely sitdown.
Before the Knicks (10-26) faced the Clippers (26-12) at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Barrett said he reconnected with his godfather Steve Nash, the former NBA star point guard who was a teammate of Rowan Barrett -- RJ's father -- on the Canadian national teams.
"It feels great," Barrett said. "Being able to see somebody that's kind of been there for me my whole life. We had dinner (Saturday). So getting to see him come out to a game was great."
Not long after he completed his 18 NBA seasons, Nash was inducted into the 2018 Naismith Hall of Fame. Nash was an eight-time All-Star selection and seven-time All-NBA honoree, leading the league in assists five times and winning two MVPs along the way.
"Stay the course"- Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 5, 2020
RJ on advice he's gotten from Steve Nash pic.twitter.com/0Ob6g7TWyp
But Nash's success did not happen overnight. In fact, as the No. 15 overall pick from the 1996 NBA draft, a 22-year-old Nash averaged 3.3 points and 2.1 assists over 62 games (two starts) as a rookie on the 1996-97 season with the Phoenix Suns.
Nash needed his first five NBA seasons to grow before he carved a legacy as an all-time great point guard, finishing third on the league's career assists list with 10,335 -- behind only Jason Kidd's 12,091 and John Stockton's 15,806. Barrett's career is obviously only getting started, but only at 19, he keeps his ups and downs in perspective with help from someone who has been through it firsthand.
"He just told me to stay the course," Barrett, who was the 2019 NBA draft's No. 3 overall pick, said of Nash. "There's going to be highs and lows, and he told me that he's actually kind of happy to see me go through some adversity because it'll make me stronger -- especially for the long run."