CM – Knicks’ RJ Barrett Eyes Medal as Canada enters Olympic qualification


In his second NBA season, RJ Barrett played for the Knicks in all 72 games, then in all five games of their first-round playoff series against Atlanta, which ended on June 2.

Less than a month Later, the Knick will be on the field on Tuesday as the shooting guard in the starting eleven for Team Canada in the game against Greece (excluding Giannis Antetokounmpo) in Victoria, British Columbia.

Canada will host an Olympic qualification tournament with six at the end of July Teams to enable participation in the Tokyo Olympics. Only one country will move forward.

Barrett’s Canadian squad will face China against either Turkey, the Czech Republic or Uruguay on Wednesday before the next round.

Nick Nurse, Team Canada head coach who coach the Raptors, said he was impressed with Barrett’s growth in his sophomore season.

« He’s playing in a big market at a very young age and just kept looking at it, » Nurse told Zoom last week. “I always say, ‘He’s 21.’ Anything is possible for this guy wherever he is. This year he made a big leap. There are some pretty good grown men out there playing in the league he is in. So a jump like this says a lot about him. ”

The training camp started last week in Tampa, Florida. Barrett was locked in his hotel on his 21st birthday on June 14th, waiting for camp.

« That was annoying, » Barrett said with a laugh to Canadian reporters on a Zoom call last week. “No, it was cool. I just talked to everyone on the phone, family and stuff. Everyone made me feel special, so it wasn’t that bad. ”

Barrett grew up on the outskirts of Toronto – in Mississauga. His father Rowan, the former St. John Standout, is the general manager of Team Canada.

Yes, that means a lot to Barrett. Team Canada has not made it to the Olympics since the Sydney Games in 2000 – but has eight current NBA players on its roster, including Andrew Wiggins, Dwight Powell, Trey Lyles, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Luguentz Dort. </ Barrett has played for two flagship basketball companies in Duke and the Knicks, but admitted it was the "most special" event of his career.

« I always appreciate it, » Barrett said. “Nobody can ever take that away from me and nobody can ever take that away from my country. I say that with great pride. That’s why I’m here right now. I’m trying to bring that feeling back to Canada, to bring home a medal. I think that’s the perfect timing, I think we’ll be good. « 

Barrett improved his 3-point shooting from 32 percent to 40.1 percent and averaged 17.6 points in his second season, 5.8 rebounds and three assists but had disappointing playoffs. Despite an average of 14.4 points against Atlanta, he shot a total of only 38.8 percent – and 28.6 percent from 3.

The Knicks are happy about this experience for Barrett on another big stage – no matter how long it was takes.

« He just records everything, » said Nurse. “He has an infectious energy with which he practices. He was very active and energetic and focused, focused and smart. « 

 » When I play in the NBA, I feel like I understand a little more about the game of basketball, « said Barrett. « Even concepts, I can grasp things faster, I can see a little more. »

Barrett isn’t the only Knicks Olympian. While Julius Randle was not selected for Team USA, Frank Ntilikina is back in Team France, which has already qualified and the training camp has started.

In addition, Luca Vildoza, the new Knicks Point Guard Signee, is with the Argentine Olympic Team in Las Vegas. Argentina is holding its training camp in Las Vegas as COVID-19 rates are higher in that country.

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