Two-time NBA Finals MVP has high praise for Duke basketball star

Duke basketball star RJ Barrett (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball star RJ Barrett (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /

A two-time NBA Finals MVP had high praise for a Duke basketball star.

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is a soft-spoken superstar in the NBA, but the two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player could not help but praise the play of a former Duke basketball star.

The Clippers (17-6) were in the Big Apple to visit the New York Knicks (10-13) on Sunday afternoon, and former Blue Devil RJ Barrett drew the assignment, on the offensive and defensive end, of All-Star Kawhi Leonard.

Recognized as one of the best defenders in the NBA, Barrett was able to showcase his skills with 23 points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals, and only two turnovers on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor.

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New York fell in a back-and-forth affair, 129-115, to the Clippers.

However, following the game, Leonard was asked about the play of the rising star who plays for the Knicks:

“He took on the challenge, and that’s how you get better. Trying to guard the best players on the floor and also trying to attack them. I liked his mindset tonight. Sky’s the limit depending on how hard he works and where his mental is. I like that he took on the challenge,” the two-time champion said.

Former Duke basketball star continuing stellar sophomore year

RJ Barrett has continued his steady progress averaging 17.8 points per game, better than his rookie numbers of 14.3 points per contest.

The one concern about the Canadian native is his shooting abilities from three-point range, firing at a 27.1-percent clip from downtown after posting a 32.0-percent shooting percentage from three-point range in his first NBA season.

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Barrett is also posting 6.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in 35.8 minutes per contest.

The New York Knicks are coming off a victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night where RJ Barrett posted 17 points and seven rebounds. The Knicks will return home to face the Portland Trail Blazers (11-9) in a Saturday matinee (1:00pm EST).

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