New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett reacts after scoring during the second half of a game against the Miami Heat, Jan. 12, 2020, in New York. The Knicks defeated the Heat 124-121.
(AP Photo)

Headband RJ Barrett might be the next big thing for the New York Knicks. The rookie says he’s keeping the new look for a little while.

Danny Small

NEW YORK, NY—There was something different about RJ Barrett in the New York Knicks‘ 124-121 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday. Was it his strong shooting performance? No. What about his permanent scowl down the stretch of the thrilling win? Nope, that’s not it either.

It was the headband.

“That was the first time I wore the headband,” Barrett laughed. “They’re all calling me headband Ro.”

The reason for the headband? The rookie didn’t have a haircut so the fashion choice was more out of necessity than anything else. In fact, he played so well, he says he’ll have to bring it back out at some point again.

While the 19-year-old was explaining his decision to wear the headband, Mitchell Robinson was a few lockers away teasing and taunting the rookie for wearing the thicker headband. Robinson also dons a headband, but he said he only wears the skinny version.

Barrett tallied 23 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field and 8-for-10 from the free-throw line. Sunday marked one of his best games as a professional and he’s starting to really put the pieces together.

The rookie is averaging 15.6 points per game on 42.5% shooting in the month of January. Although his three-point shooting is far from consistent, his improved free-throw percentage should give him some confidence going forward.

Barrett has improved on his free-throw percentages during each month of the season thus far. In the short month of October, he shot 40.7%. He made slight progress in the coming months, shooting 55.6% in November and 63.6% in December. Now, he’s shooting a cool 75% on 5.7 attempts per game in January.

“Just working, working every day, night before the games, all the time, just working,” Barrett said when asked if there’s any specific reason for his continued improvement at the line.

Like all rookies, Barrett is going to experience peaks and valleys, but there’s no denying his talent and potential. Whether he’s wearing the headband or not, Barrett is showing that he’s built for New York.

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