Julius Randle
AP Photo/Darren Abate

Although the New York Knicks are leaving San Antonio without a win, RJ Barrett’s scintillating debut should give fans hope.

  • New York Knicks 111 (0-1)
  • San Antonio Spurs 120 (1-0)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Win, lose or draw, there were going to be positives for the New York Knicks to take away from the season opener in San Antonio. Most notably, RJ Barrett looks like the real deal.

The 19-year-old rookie is already showing off his ability to finish at the rim. Expect him to be a streaky shooter early in his career, but his slashing will make up for his inconsistent shooting.

The rookie looks like he’s ready to take over as the guy one game into his career, but Barrett wasn’t able to lead his squad to a victory despite his encouraging performance. The Duke product finished with 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the floor. This is going to be his team sooner rather than later.

While Knicks fans can sleep soundly knowing Barrett looks like a future star, head coach David Fizdale‘s squad staged a complete collapse in the fourth quarter.

Although the Knicks held a 97-91 in the fourth quarter, the Spurs flexed their muscles down the stretch. An 18-0 run gave San Antonio a 109-97 lead they would never relinquish. This type of fourth-quarter collapse is something that Knicks fans are all too familiar with.

Despite the up-and-down opener, there are more positives than negatives to take away from this game. Julius Randle looked completely comfortable in his role as the focal point (for now), scoring 25 points while chipping in 11 rebounds, six assists, and three steals.

Marcus Morris was unconscious in the first half but, much like the Knicks, faded late. After hitting eight of his first 10 shots to start the game, Morris finished the game by hitting just one of his final eight attempts.

The point guard competition was one of the biggest storylines of training camp and the preseason and it doesn’t appear to be settled. Allonzo Trier started in the backcourt, pushing Barrett to point guard for all intents and purposes. However, Trier played fewer than seven minutes despite starting.

Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina both looked shaky in minimal minutes while Elfrid Payton provided some energy and ball movement off the bench. The veteran floor general finished with 11 points, eight assists, and five steals in his Knicks debut.

It’s unclear who Fizdale will turn to on Friday, but Payton feels like the obvious choice after Wednesday. He found himself in foul trouble late, forcing Barrett to play point guard in the fourth quarter. That contributed to the team’s shaky fourth quarter as the offense stagnated without a true point guard on the floor.

The Knicks will travel back to New York for a Friday showdown with the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn lost its season opener in overtime to the Minnesota Timberwolves despite 50 points from Irving.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.