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RJ Barrett excited to play for hometown Raptors

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(John Jones-USA TODAY Sports)

RJ Barrett excited to play for hometown Raptors

The first big trade ahead of the 2023-24 NBA Trade Deadline, set to be on Feb. 8, occurred Saturday between the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors.

The Knicks acquired star wing OG Anunoby–in addition to role players Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn–sending RJ Barrett, rising star Immanuel Quickley and a 2024 second-round pick (Detroit) in return. Though Barrett, the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, is a Canadian native.

Quickley and Barrett had media availability Monday, and the 6-foot-6 wing appeared excited to play for his hometown time.

“It’s great. I’m really happy, really excited to be here. I’m thankful. I’m blessed,” Barrett said Monday, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg. “I grew up a Raptors fan all my life. So to come here and put the jersey on, it’s going to be great.

“I mean who doesn’t want to come home and play in front of family and friends and get a team that I’ve always loved so much back to where they were in 2019Maybe if I came here at 19 (years old), it would’ve been more difficult. Having grown up, I understand how I need to work.”

Barrett, 23, will need to be more efficient to cleanly fit with the Raptors, who rank No. 25 in 3-point percentage (34.7). No. 20 in effective field goal percentage (53.9) and No. 23 in true-shooting percentage (56.8). He’s averaging 18.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 42.3/33.1/83.1 shooting splits–equating to a 47.8 effective field goal percentage and 53.6 true-shooting percentage–and has never been a league average spacer.

While Quickley better improves Toronto’s offensive miscues, Barrett can still help them improve Toronto’s facilitating and defensive floor. No matter how rocky or smooth things went in The Big Apple, Barrett was a consummate professional–and a fresh start with his hometown squad might have been exactly what he needed.

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