Knicks first-rounder RJ Barrett was all smiles in his No. 9 jersey during Media Day on Monday. But when the lights turn on at Madison Square Garden in his rookie season, it will be all business for the No. 3 overall pick.
His true first day at work begins on Tuesday during his first training camp practice. Barrett is excited to get to work with his new teammates in Tarrytown, NY -- something he's already been doing since being drafted by the Knicks. It has been so far, so good as he continues to get acclimated to his new team.
"It's been great so far," he told reporters. "Just really enjoying being around the guys, enjoying working out so just trying to get to know everybody."
Barrett knows there will be a learning curve as he begins to get regular season games under his belt. But he's more than ready for it, wanting to soak in as much as he can to get through that learning period as quickly as possible.
"I really just want to come in and learn," he said. "Come in as the young guy and try to compete."
"You're going to a different level -- the pros -- so just getting used to the NBA really."
In the locker room, Barrett also noted how he'll be watching the veterans closely, especially when it comes to their leadership. Being a team captain down at Duke as well as being a top draft pick, Barrett will be looked upon to be a leader in the years to come. He may not be asked to do it now, but it's never too early to start.
"Definitely got to learn from the older guys, they know what to do," he said. "So we definitely appreciate their leadership and we need it."
Barrett is ready to hit the ground running, and the Knicks love to see that. During their press time, team president Steve Mills and Scott Perry also discussed Barrett's development thus far, and his confidence throughout the Summer League and getting back to New York to train has "never wavered."
"We saw what you saw on the court with RJ in the Summer League, but we were with him every day off the court," Mills said. "And the one thing: his confidence never wavered. So for him to be able to hit that wall a little bit and then never lose faith in himself and try to figure out what he could do to help the team, I think that was a very good sign for us and him for his development."
In 30.7 minutes per game out in Las Vegas with the Knicks, Barrett averaged 11.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. However, he only averaged 28 percent from the field.
With that being said, he wants head coach David Fizdale and the rest of the staff to not hold back from the jump. He wants the criticism early, so he can fix his mistakes wherever they may be.
"I want coach to be tough on me. That's the only way I feel like if you're pushed and you have a tough coach that's on you it's going to make you play better. I feel like I'll learn faster that way."