After Knicks swingman RJ Barrett lines up for the team’s back-to-back on Sunday and Monday, against the Cavaliers and 76ers, he will have played in his 97th and 98th consecutive games.
That number would increase to 103 if you were to count five playoff games last spring.
Barrett’s streak of five straight 20-plus-point games entering Sunday’s matchup is eye-opening, but his durability often gets overlooked. Analytics gurus continually ignore games-played statistics in all their calculations.
Barrett, who played in all 72 regular-season games last season, said he never missed a game at Duke or in high school either. Not only does the former No. 3 pick look to be on track for All-Star honors one day, but he’s New York’s basketball Ironman.
“Honestly we have a great staff here,’’ said Barrett, who scored 20 points Friday and 10 in the third quarter to help the Knicks’ epic rally to a 113-98 victory in Milwaukee. “Just taking care of your body, listening to your body. Knowing when to go to the gym and shoot, when to get treatment. Just knowing your body and getting work in every day.’’
Barrett’s rookie year showed hints of his staying power. He missed one game with an illness and sat out a nine-game stretch with an ankle sprain and that was it. In a Knicks season cut short by the pandemic, Barrett played in 56 of 66 games.
“I think it’s also just mental toughness being able to play through little things,’’ Barrett said. “There’s always going to be little things that bother you and just being able to get the treatment and push through it.’’
In nine games this season, Barrett is averaging 19.4 points 5.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from 3.
Some high draft picks are in great shape and built for basketball for the long haul. That is the one area Barrett’s Duke buddy, Zion Williamson, must work on.
In his Westchester Knicks debut Friday, two-way player Luka Samanic scored 17 points in 19 minutes, making 7 of 10 shots — all in the first half. Samanic appeared to sprain his ankle late in the second quarter and didn’t play the second half of a 107-103 loss to Capital City. Samanic then sat out the rematch Saturday vs. Capital City.
Samanic, a Croatian power forward, was selected 19th in the 2019 draft by the Spurs, who waived him during training camp. The Knicks signed him to a two-way contract, though coach Tom Thibodeau said he expected Samanic to be in the G-League primarily this season.
Meanwhile, rookie shooting guard MJ Walker, out of Florida State, scored 20 points and Aamir Sims added 15. Walker and Sims, who did well in training camp, would’ve been the other two-way signee until Samanic got unexpectedly waived.