Three years into his career and RJ Barrett is still overlooked. In fact, his stock is dropping according to the basketball writers at ESPN. Mike Schmitz, Kevin Pelton, and Bobby Marks put together a 25 under 25 list for the Worldwide Leader.
There wasn’t a single New York Knick on the list, not even Barrett. He didn’t make the list last year either, but he received two top 25 votes. Schmitz, Pelton, and Marks all left Barrett off the list this year.
Here’s this year’s ESPN’s NBA 25 under 25:
- Luka Doncic — Mavericks
- Jayson Tatum — Celtics
- Ja Morant — Grizzlies
- Trae Young — Hawks
- LaMelo Ball — Hornets
- Cade Cunningham — Pistons
- Zion Williamson — Pelicans
- Bam Adebayo — Heat
- Darius Garland — Cavaliers
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — Thunder
- Anthony Edwards — Timberwolves
- Brandon Ingram — Pelicans
- Scottie Barnes — Raptors
- Tyrese Haliburton — Pacers
- Evan Mobley — Cavaliers
- Miles Bridges — Hornets
- Desmond Bane — Grizzlies
- Jarrett Allen — Cavaliers
- Deandre Ayton — Suns
- Tyler Herro — Heat
- Jalen Green — Rockets
- De’Aaron Fox — Kings
- John Collins — Hawks
- Tyrese Maxey — 76ers
- Jaren Jackson Jr. — Grizzlies
It’s not surprising to see Barrett’s stock drop. His efficiency took a dip this year despite an increase in his counting stats. The eye test post-All-Star break looked good for Barrett, though.
With Julius Randle floundering, Barrett took over as the team’s top dog. He’s never afraid to cover the toughest guy or take the big shot. It’s clear that he’s a valuable young player, even if he’s not cracking lists like these.
This might be a New York bias, but give me Barrett over Jalen Green and Tyrese Maxey. And it’s important to remember Barrett is still young. Had he made this list, he would be the ninth-youngest player on it. There’s time yet for him.
A few other thoughts:
These guys almost nailed the top five. Luka Doncic at No. 1 is indisputable in my eyes. Jayson Tatum is a close No. 2, but I’d flip Ja Morant and Trae Young.
Morant’s having a ridiculous season, but Young is arguably the tougher cover in a playoff series. We saw that last year when he led the Hawks all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. The margins between the two are razor-thin, though.
Jarrett Allen’s rise from rookie to All-Star has been fun to watch. It’s a shame he’s hurt for Cleveland’s play-in game against Brooklyn.
There is so much young talent in the NBA spread across the league right now.