The Kings were teared in Big Easy on Mondays. Williamson poured in thirty points, took thirteen of 21 shots, took six rebounds with four assists. In the Garden, Barrett, who missed his first 8 shots, finished seven points, placed a scoring clunker. The disparate scoring nights this season were not representative of Williamson’s division with Barrett.
Although Williamson remains the highest talent and a superstar already, his former Duke Bestie closed the gap sometimes. The Williamson 6-7 finished third in Rookie of the Year last season although they missed much of the season with knee distress. On the two All-Rookie teams, Barrett was not even elected to.
Williamson will face the Knicks and Barrett for the first time in a regular season match on Wednesday at the Smoothie King Center. Maverick Coach Rick Carlisle recently said that, as if Shaquilles O’Neal were a guard skilful, ‘watching him is like an amazing experience.’
“It’s probably a good word to describe him — unique,” said Tom Thibodeau said in advance of the Pelicans matchup, “It’s unusual because it’s power and speed. And usually when you have the power, you don’t have the speed or if you have the speed, you don’t have the power and he has both. Very skilled, puts a lot of pressure on you, dynamic play-maker.”
In the pre-season match-up last season, Williamson, the first pick in the 2019 draft, had been wounded and the regular-season Garden contest missed. The pandemic canceled their second game for New Orleans last April.
In a summer-league game in Las Vegas, Williamson faced the Knicks, but hurt his knees and back in too heavy for 9 minutes. While Thibodeau gave Williamson his own kudos, the coach of Knicks mentioned Barrett earned more than the third selection.
“I love the guy we got, I know that,” Thibodeau said. “RJ’s had a terrific season for us. He’s great to be around, great teammate, great to coach. He’s gotten better each and every day, gives you everything he has, puts the team first – you can’t ask for anything more than that. And I think he’s got a huge upside.”
Williamson made this season’s All-Star Game slightly leaner, more in attack and an elite finisher. The 20-year-old has 26.8 points on average, 7.1 rebonds and 3.7 aids, and 62 percent shoots. He still doesn’t take many 3 people, but makes 36%.
Perhaps Barrett is next to improve his 3-point (37.8%), his free throw (73.5%) shooting and his decision-making drastically. Barrett is still a load when he pounds to the hoop with a good finish, at an average of 17.4 points.
The two men from Duke Southpaw alpha cannot match Wednesday much when Williamson plays ahead of power. But the times they go mano a mano will be fun to see.