Zion Williamson was the top prize in the 2019 draft, but the Knicks should be grateful they wound up with RJ Barrett instead, writes Adam Zagoria of Forbes. Williamson, who is recovering from offseason foot surgery, watched Saturday night as his former college teammate scored a career-high 35 points in New York’s victory over the Pelicans. Forbes notes that in their two-plus seasons in the NBA, Barrett has played in 134 games compared to Williamson’s 85.
“I saw him after the game,’’ Barrett said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “He just said he was happy for me, stuff like that. But it’s cool. I can’t wait till he gets back out there on the court. It’s cool to just see him there, we don’t see each other often anymore because of the schedules.’’
There’s more from New York:
- Kemba Walker is playing without the knee pain that limited him to 43 games last season, Berman details in a separate story. While Walker can’t beat defenders to the rim like he used to, he seems to have regained his shooting touch, connecting on 50% of his attempts from the field through six games after hitting just 42% a year ago. “This is the best I’ve felt in a very long time,’’ he said. “My days consist of me taking care of myself. I don’t mean that when I’m in the facility with the trainers. I mean that when I’m home. When I’m in my room, I’m taking care of my knee. That’s like my whole day. There’s a lot of preparation leading up to these games for me.’’
- The Knicks are fans of the NBA’s emphasis on not calling fouls on defensive players when shooters jump into them, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. While some teams have struggled to adapt, Evan Fournier believes the league is moving in the right direction. “It was actually very frustrating for me. For years — I don’t like to compare anything — but coming from Europe we have guys that aren’t as physical, aren’t as athletic, and yet the game is more physical there,” Fournier said. “So as a rookie, I kept fouling and fouling and fouling. And I was like, ‘What the hell?’ I’m skinny. I’m not that strong. And I think the league did a great job. We have to adjust. As a fan, I think it’s better. You don’t want to see guys trying to trick referees all the time.”
- Mitchell Robinson had two serious injuries last season, so he understands what Bulls forward Patrick Williams is going through, Bondy adds in a separate piece. Williams suffered torn ligaments in his left wrist after Robinson’s flagrant foul this week, and Robinson felt the need to defend himself against accusations on social media. “I was just reading stuff and people trying to make it seem like it was something that it’s not, which that’s what people want to do,” Robinson said. “I went down myself. I know the pain. I know what it is. So when somebody goes down, I feel what they feel. I went through two injuries back-to-back. That’s the worst feeling in the world.”