Even though Canada Basketball isn’t going to the Olympics, RJ Barrett flashed more high-end potential in the FIBA OQT.
The dust has settled after a weekend of celebrating in the USA and a weekend of mourning in Canada. While Americans were happily enjoying the Fourth of July weekend, Canadians were watching Canada Basketball flounder in a FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
It’s another disappointment for Canada Basketball in a long line of sorrow. The Canadians have not qualified for the Olympics in basketball since 2000 but it’s not because of RJ Barrett. On the contrary, Team Canada dropped a winnable game against the Czech Republic despite a dominant performance from RJ Barrett.
Barrett led Canada with 23 points in over 40 minutes of action. He also added five rebounds and six assists for good measure.
The recently-turned 21-year-old averaged 20.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in his three games at this FIBA OQT. There were a few things he could clean up, namely his free-throw shooting. But all in all, he was steady throughout the tournament, only turning the ball over three times in three games.
Barrett and Canada Basketball will have to wait three more years for a chance at the Olympics. If they bring their full complement of NBA players, they should have no problem qualifying.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jamal Murray, Dillon Brooks, and Kelly Olynyk are just a few of the names who missed out on this year’s team for one reason or another. The future is still bright for Canada Basketball.
What This Means For The Knicks
Unfortunately, New York Knicks fans won’t have the chance to watch Barrett on the second biggest stage in international basketball.
(Sidenote: The FIBA World Cup is the best international tournament even though the Americans treat the Olympics like it’s a bigger deal. It’s not.)
By now, the secret is out on Barrett’s offseason work ethic. His so-so rookie season had many around the league questioning his potential as a star. Instead of posting daily videos of his workout routine and dunks in an empty gym, Barrett went to work.
From year one to year two, Barrett improved on the weakest area of his game — his three-point shooting. The lefty went from one of the worst three-point shooters in the NBA to a sure thing from beyond the arc. His 40% clip from deep in 2020-21 put him in the top 50 in the NBA in that regard.
However, there is still work to be done. The overwhelming majority of his three-point attempts came off of catch-and-shoot opportunities. Pull-up threes only accounted for 1.9% of his shot attempts. We already caught a glimpse of Barrett trying to improve this aspect of his game.
RJ Barrett adding to his game with the step-back three… pic.twitter.com/pR2ACXMmhX
— Danny Small (@dwsmall8) June 30, 2021
Barrett’s off-the-dribble work, along with the rest of his game, will have to improve in the shadows for another summer. With the shortened offseason, it’s tough to know what to expect from Barrett in year three, but count him out at your own risk.