Knicks rookie RJ Barrett reveals he’s actually a righty, explains why he shoots left-handed

RJ Barrett’s shooting has been the catalyst behind his disappointing rookie season for the New York Knicks. The No. 3 overall pick has made only 39.1 percent of his field-goal attempts and 31.1 percent of his shots behind the arc. Throw in a dismal 60.1 percent at the free-throw line, and Barrett’s 46.6 true shooting percentage is the third-lowest mark among Knicks rotation players, ahead of only Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. 

There are myriad possible reasons for these struggles. The Knicks infamously spent the bulk of their cap space on power forwards rather than perimeter shooters, forcing Barrett, a natural forward, to play most of his minutes at shooting guard. There’s also the general dysfunction surrounding him in New York, as the Knicks have already changed head coaches and team presidents less than 50 games into Barrett’s career. The Knicks haven’t exactly offered an environment conducive to great shooting from Barrett, but as he revealed, quite a bit of the blame should fall in his own lap based on one bizarre choice. 

Barrett shoots left-handed. He has for as long as his basketball career has been on display for public consumption. But he explained on Wednesday that he is actually right-handed, according to Newsday’s Laura Albanese. He apparently does everything besides shoot with his right hand, but “grew up feeling more ambidextrous,” and his mother’s left-handedness led to him picking up some of her habits. 

Now, there are several issues with this logic, but the idea of him picking up his mother’s habits in particular is rather strange considering who his father is. His mother was an excellent athlete in her own right, but as a runner, not a basketball player. His father Rowan, however, was a basketball star and is the current general manager of the Canadian national team. Rowan Barrett shot with his right hand. Considering the younger Barrett’s prodigious talent, one would think that his father would have noticed this issue at a young age and worked to correct it before allowing it to cause problems in the NBA. 

Barrett isn’t the only player to shoot with his non-dominant hand. Ben Simmons is the most notable example of a right-handed player who shoots with his left, and perhaps not coincidentally, he is one of the worst shooters in the NBA. He is 2 for 23 from behind the arc in his career, and his reluctance to develop a jump shot has given Philadelphia major headaches when it comes to building a crunchtime offense. 

Barrett is already a better shooter than Simmons, but he lacks Simmons’ otherworldly talents in other areas. He is not an elite defender or rebounder. He is a good passer, but Simmons is one of the best in basketball. Barrett has to be able to shoot if he plans on achieving any measure of NBA stardom. Perhaps his rookie season forces him to reconsider his notions of ambidexterity, or perhaps he simply becomes a better lefty shooter in the coming years. But no matter what the case, Barrett cannot afford another shooting season as poor as this one. If a method as simple as switching hands could potentially solve the problem, it is something Barrett should at least consider. 

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