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Wendell Cruz | USA TODAY Sports

The second round of the FIBA World Cup will conclude on Sunday and the Knicks will have their fingerprints all over the games. RJ Barrett and Canada need a win against a battle-tested Spanish side to stay alive. Meanwhile, Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart are starters and key contributors for Team USA, who already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals. There is even a little Knicks flavor on Lithuania — Team USA’s next opponent.

Wake up early, put on a pot of coffee, and gear up to watch the Knicks play on the international stage.

The rollercoaster ride that is RJ Barrett. This has been a longtime theme throughout Barrett’s career. He shows flashes of brilliance one moment and looks completely out of sync the next. It can happen from month to month, week to week, game to game, and even quarter to quarter with the young Canadian. For my money, the highs outweigh the lows, but I’ve always been a glass-half-full person.

This World Cup has felt like a microcosm of Barrett’s career. He put up two stinkers against France and Brazil but balanced out his numbers with great games against Lebanon and Latvia. A winning performance against Spain might help coax frustrated Knicks fans back into Barrett’s camp. A potential meeting with Brunson and Hart in the semifinals or finals is still on the table for Canada.

Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart play winning basketball. This isn’t news to anyone who watched the Knicks last season. Brunson and Hart were perfect fits for this environment. Brunson might not be a classic point guard in the sense that he’s dishing out 10 assists each night, but he is a floor general all the same. Anthony Edwards is the offensive engine for Team USA’s starters, but Brunson is a key cog in the operation. His work in the pick-and-roll game is flying under the radar.

Brandon Ingram entered the World Cup as a starter but has since been supplanted by Hart. Ingram is struggling to adapt to a different role. The former All-Star is used to being “the man” on offense and doesn’t seem comfortable deferring to Edwards and Brunson. A mad scientist in search of the perfect role player would create someone just like Hart. His rebounding, team defense, and overall scrappiness complement the star power that Team USA brought to the World Cup.

We have a Rokas Jokubaitis sighting. Most Knicks fans should recognize this name at the very least. New York took Jokubaitis in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft, but he is still playing ball overseas. The Lithuanian is putting together a strong performance in the World Cup, averaging 13.8 points per game on impressive efficiency. He’s adding in 3.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game for good measure.

Despite this strong play, we don’t expect to see Jokubaitis in a Knicks uniform anytime soon. New York is stacked at guard with seven guys fighting for minutes in the backcourt (Brunson, Hart, Barrett, Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Donte DiVincenzo, and Deuce McBride). The most likely scenario for Jokubaitis suiting up for the Knicks involves a major trade. If New York were to finally pull the trigger and trade for a superstar, that could clear out the log jam in the backcourt. Jokubaitis feels like he could slot in nicely as Brunson’s understudy.

Lithuania will face off against Team USA on Sunday morning for the chance to win Group J. Both teams have already secured their spots in the quarterfinals.

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