R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to the Knicks.
RJ Barrett said he has noticed how much respect the Knicks have received from opposing teams and players after reaching the playoffs for the first time in eight years and improving by 18 wins from last season — from 21 to 39 — with two games remaining.
“Most definitely, you can see there’s a different level of respect [for the Knicks],” Barrett said Friday on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio. “Teams have to come in and bring their best, teams have to come in and play hard. Most definitely, you can tell that. We have a really good record at home, at the Garden, with our fans, and it’s really tough to come in there and get a win. So you definitely can see that teams respect us a lot more.”
The Knicks enter their home game Saturday against the Hornets with a 23-11 record at the Garden. Barrett said he’s happy that attendance at the Garden will rise from about 2,000 fans to 5,000 for the playoffs, but he wishes the arena could have been packed throughout this turnaround season.
“Man, I think we would’ve had an even better record than we do right now,” Barrett said. “Those fans at the Garden really get you going, it’s really an incredible place. The Mecca of Basketball, best arena I’ve ever played in. I love the Garden and I hope that I’m here for the rest of my career.”
Barrett, the third overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Duke, has improved across the board in his second NBA season. He is averaging 17.6 points and 5.8 rebounds while appearing in all 70 games and raising his 3-point percentage from 32.0 percent as a rookie to 39.8 percent.
“I think I’ve shown the world this year that I can shoot, that I can make the shots and space the floor for my teammates,” Barrett said. “But this is only Year 2. I’m only 20 years old. I’ve got a lot more to do. … I’m excited to continue this work in the offseason and come back even better.”
Derrick Rose (sprained left ankle) has been listed as questionable for Saturday’s game. Miles Bridges (health and safety protocols) and Gordon Hayward (foot) remain out for Charlotte.
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