It seems that the first two picks in the NBA Draft are set, which leaves plenty of possibilities for R.J. Barrett. Where would he fit best?
R.J. Barrett came into his freshman year as one of the most highly touted recruits in the country. His impressed in several areas during his one season at Duke but the places he struggled also raised questions about exactly how his NBA ceiling is and what kind of role he would work best in.
Barrett’s tools hint at a potential star with the size to play on the wing and the shooting and creation skills to function as a primary ball-handler. However, his sometimes shaky spot-up shooting and less-than-stellar defense make it harder to envision him in a complementary role if he isn’t good enough to justify the responsibilities for being an alpha on offense. He could be a D’Angelo Russell-type player on offense. Or he could be Andrew Wiggins. Given all of that and the places he might land in the NBA Draft, where might Barrett fit best next season?
5. Chicago Bulls
It’s hard to imagine Barrett sliding all the way to No. 7 but if he was here it would be difficult for the Bulls to pass him up. If Barrett slides it will be because of questions of fit and ultimate upside but Chicago needs another ball-handler and depth on the wing and with his size, he could theoretically play the 3 in between Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine with a point guard who is more of a shooter than a creator.
There are a number of issues here, including how good a developmental environment the Bulls would provide, but defense is extremely concerning. Zach LaVine is one of the worst defensive players in the league and Barrett’s upside at the end of the floor is limited, especially compared to players like Jarrett Culver and De’Andre Hunter who also might be available in this range. Wendell Carter Jr. and whoever ends up at point guard would be the only potentially above-average defensive players in this starting group that’s asking Carter Jr. to carry a huge load. It would certainly be fun to watch, but it’s probably not the best fit for all involved.