Strengths: First and foremost, R.J. Barrett is a winner who has all the tools to do whatever it takes to bring home a dub for his team. To go along with his elite finishing skills and his knack for attacking the paint, Barrett plays with no inhibitions, unafraid to take the tough shots Duke has needed throughout this season to get back into games or end offensive droughts against teams like Louisville, Gonzaga or Virginia. Barrett’s multidimensional game provides a matchup problem for almost every other team, and Barrett always tries to make his smaller and slower opponents pay for it with slashes to the paint and pull-up jumpers galore.
Weaknesses: Although Barrett has a knack for taking big shots, some have criticized his shot selection and efficiency throughout the season. The Mississauga, Ontario, native is shooting 44.8 percent from the field, which isn’t terrible considering the fact that he leads the Blue Devils in shot attempts by a wide margin. However, his occasional tunnel vision and score-first mentality has stalled Duke’s offense at times.
Aspect of matchup to watch: Kenny Williams is one of the ACC’s best defenders, and he must bring his A-game next Wednesday in order to stop Barrett from doing what he wants to do. Williams stands at 6-foot-4, three inches shorter than Barrett, which could be a blessing and a curse. Williams’ smaller stature could be the difference between successfully bothering Barrett when he dribbles and Williams getting bodied in the paint. On the other end of the court, Williams is shooting 32.0 percent from deep, and will require Barrett to pay attention to him everywhere on the floor as a potentially lethal long-range shooter.
This is one of our five starter breakdowns heading into this weekend's matchup with North Carolina. Check out our reports on Tre Jones, Cam Reddish, Zion Williamson and Marques Bolden and find the rest of our rivalry coverage here.