RJ Barrett has become the first member of Duke’s star freshman class to announce his NBA intentions.
The 6-foot-7 forward revealed Wednesday that he was declaring for the 2019 NBA draft. His declaration is no surprise; Barrett has been considered a top-five NBA draft pick and a one-and-done player ever since he enrolled at Duke.
I want to thank God, my family, my coaches and everyone that has helped me reach this decision 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/z3GwdcV2ht
— Rj Barrett (@RjBarrett6) April 10, 2019
Averaged over 22 points per game
Barrett was tied for the team lead in scoring at Duke with fellow freshman Zion Williamson at 22.6 points per game. He also averaged 7.6 rebounds and dished out over four assists per game. While Williamson is widely believed to be the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft, Barrett could go right behind him. Along with Murray State’s Ja Morant, Barrett is considered one of the options to go at No. 2.
Barrett had 21 points in Duke’s Elite Eight loss to Michigan State. He combined with Williamson to score 45 of Duke’s 67 points in the Spartans’ 68-67 win.
As Williamson was sidelined with a knee injury in February against North Carolina, Barrett became the focal point of Duke’s offense. Barrett scored 33 points in that UNC loss and had 26 or more points in three of the five games that Williamson missed.
Williamson has yet to officially declare for the draft but is expected to do so. Fellow freshman Cam Reddish is also projected as a potential lottery pick if and when he turns pro.
Point guard Tre Jones announced earlier in the week that he’d be coming back to Duke for his sophomore season.
Where could Barrett fit in the NBA?
The order of the top 14 picks in the 2019 draft will be decided in May at the draft lottery, so we’re not exactly sure just yet who Barrett’s suitors at the top of the draft will be.
But he’d fit well with the Suns, a team that finished with the worst record in the Western Conference. The Suns, who have Devin Booker at guard, took former Arizona center Deandre Ayton with the top pick in the 2018 draft.
The New York Knicks took wing Kevin Knox with their first-round pick last season and have been mentioned as a strong possibility for impending free agent Kevin Durant. The Knicks are assured of the worst record in the NBA. If they get the top pick, it’ll probably be Williamson or bust. If they don’t, Morant may seem to be a better fit if the organization has a choice between him and Barrett.
Barrett would also be a good fit in either Cleveland or Memphis. The Grizzlies would like another young wing to pair with Jaren Jackson and the Cavaliers are in a full-on rebuild after LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Cavaliers took guard Collin Sexton with their first-round pick last year and don’t have much young talent on the roster.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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