Making his Madison Square Garden debut Saturday night, RJ Barrett put on a show and produced his best all-around game to date as a pro.
The No. 3 overall pick from this year's draft led the Knicks with 26 points, and added seven rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes of play.
"He's a stud, that's the only way I can put it. He's a stud," David Fizdale said.
Barrett has had a strong start to his rookie season, giving the Knicks hope that they may have finally struck gold with another first round pick (i.e. Kristaps Porzingis) -- hopefully for their sake, they'll keep this one...
"He's really talented. I thought he was really good in the draft, I thought he was really good at Duke. He's had that reputation before he got there," Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said prior to the game. "His ability to shoot the ball early on has been impressive. He's always been able to get down hill and finish. Big strong guard. The way the league is going, he can play 2-through-4. And he finished the game the other night at the point. So quite an impressive young guy."
Despite Barrett's performance, the Knicks couldn't keep themselves in the game after being tied with the Celtics late in the third quarter, ultimately being outscored 36-19 in the fourth quarter and falling 118-95. The Knicks now sit at 0-3 on the season.
"They punched us," Barrett said after the game. "Every game, we've kind of gotten a punch and normally we respond. But, we didn't respond today."
"It was a great first half. The rest of the game was tough, but I love the fans in the Garden for sure."
Although Barrett has seen individual success through the first few games of his NBA career, he hasn't really seen as much team turmoil as he has in the early goings in New York.
Having been the No. 1 overall ranked prospect out of high school and joining a Duke program that entered last season's NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 overall seed, you could say Barrett is used to excellence.
When asked if he'd ever experienced something like this on a team level, Barrett said, "No, not really. But I guess there's a first time for everything, and we're just going to keep working to turn it around."
With so many newcomers on the team, Barrett understands that it takes time for people to mesh and understand each other's style of play before you can see real results on the court.
"It's a whole new team, been together for just a couple of weeks, maybe a month. Just got to figure it out. ...it's a long season," Barrett said.