RJ Barrett has some good company vouching for his character.
Steve Nash, the 18-year-old guard's godfather, believes that Barrett has more than just the skills to succeed with the Knicks, but also the perfect personality to thrive under the spotlight in New York.
"I think he'll be an exciting player for Knicks fans. He's able to handle that type of stuff (of being in New York) because he's been at Duke but he's also been one of the top, if not the No. 1 kid, since he's been 13, 14 years old. So he's able to handle it," Nash told Stefan Bondy of the Daily News on Tuesday. "And then to have Zion sort of eclipse him in the draft and in the public view this season, and then to watch the way he's handled it and the way he's been - he's never pointed a finger, he never made an excuse."
That Duke experience and learning to share the spotlight with Zion Williamson could become valuable if the Knicks select him with the third overall pick in the draft and also add star free agents such as Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving to the team.
"He's only embraced Zion as his teammate and that says a lot about his character. It's difficult at that age to be anointed so young and then have somebody eclipse you, especially on your own team, and he's handled all that so well," Nash said. "He's a very mature and good-spirited person, which I think is huge characteristic for a professional athlete. You have ups and downs, it's how you deal with them kind of predicts what type of ceiling you have and how many obstacles you overcome."
Nash, a two-time MVP, played alongside Barrett's father, Rowan, on the Canadian National Team and has been a close family friend since, despite being separated due to his basketball schedule.
Still, Nash has been able to serve as a mentor for Barrett.
"If he ever needs anything or he's going through a tough time or something that's bothering him, he never hesitates to reach out," Nash said. "I was in the gym working out with him the other day."
Nash, however, will not be able to attend the NBA Draft in Brooklyn despite being in New York the day prior for his annual charity soccer game in Chinatown. His wife is expecting their fourth child and he needs to fly back to California.
Wherever Barrett ends up (the Knicks could always trade their pick), Nash is confident Barrett will make an impact.
"He's got such an incredible skillset that we forget he's 18 years old for a few more weeks," Nash said. "He's got a big upside and he's going to have a big effect on the NBA game, I think. I think he'll develop into a guy who can guard multiple players. But he's definitely a ballhandling wing, somebody who can play the point, the 2 or the 3."