RJ Barrett says winning Rookie of the Year is ‘definitely important’

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New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson is the early favorite to win the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year. But Williamson will have a challenger in New York Knicks youngster and former Duke teammate RJ Barrett.

Speaking to the New York Daily News this week, Barrett said that he feels as though winning Rookie of the Year is an important milestone for him and the development of a new wave of basketball in New York.

Still, there are some doubters. The NBA’s rookie poll — voted on by 42 members of the 2019 draft class — showed little support for Barrett’s ROY bid.

Via New York Daily News:

“When it’s all said and done and you see the actual results, nobody is going to remember the survey,” Barrett told the News.

“(Rookie of the Year) is definitely important. It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I was a kid,” he said. “So I thought the only way to do that is to work hard.”

We have talked before here on PBT about the hope that Knicks fans are putting in Barrett. The team decided to go for broke this past year by jettisoning Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks, creating massive cap space which they were unable to use this summer.

New York is still in play moving forward, but in the meantime they need to work on developing rookies who can play alongside the eventual hopeful free agent signings.

Barrett was one of Duke’s top scorers last season, and the 6-foot-7 forward will try to continue that offensive dominance during his first season in the NBA while getting a handle on defending what might be the league’s most important position.

Rookie of the Year will be a tough ask in the face of Williamson, whose team will likely end with a better record, but it’s not out of the question for Barrett.