As the semester comes to a close so does the Cameron Crazies' time with most of their freshman core, as Coach K's one-and-dones will be declaring for the NBA draft to start their professional careers. In this series, I will look back at every player who declares, re-evaluate their preseason NBA comparison, provide my thoughts on their season, and make my own comparisons and predictions. I will kick this one off with R.J. Barrett:
Preseason NBA comparison: Dwyane Wade
My thoughts: As much as I want to compare R.J. Barrett to my beloved Dwyane Wade, who is the reason I fell in love with basketball, one of the only qualities I believe the two share in common is a winning mentality; however, I think they approach that mentality in different ways. When LeBron joined the Miami Heat's Big 3, Wade took a backseat—in my opinion, too much of one—while the addition of Zion Williamson to Duke’s freshman four did not seem to bother Barrett or make him change his game. This is one of the things I respect the most out of Barrett -- as one of the most polarizing college basketball players of the season, Barrett received as much as, if not more criticisms than praise regarding his decisions. One simple search of “R.J.” on Twitter showed a huge dichotomy of responses. Let's tally the R.J. points.
Barrett: 2-for-4. Four points. 50 percent from the field. "Efficient."
That last quote from Barrett Sr., admittedly a biased one, is probably the take I agree with the most. Someone *ahem ahem* wrote a very good article might I say about Barrett’s advanced play over the season. Say what you want about him, but it was Barrett who had the guts to take tough shots all year to stop opposing team’s runs, it was Barrett who took over point guard duty in Duke’s win against Virginia without Tre Jones, and it was Barrett who recorded Duke’s fourth triple-double in program history. As much as I agree that Barrett may have ballhog-itis at times, a good NBA team should be able to curb that over time and get the best out of what could be a special talent. Oh yeah, here’s another hot take: R.J. will be better than Ja Morant in the long run. Ya’ll wouldn’t want a guy who can do this on your favorite NBA team?
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I certainly wouldn't be able to pass up that unreal scoring ability in the draft.
Postseason NBA comparison: R.J. has a Kobe mentality with a game similar to DeMar Derozan with a slightly better shooting touch. Add the polarization of James Harden to the mix and you have a player we will be hearing about for a while.