ESPN+ has taken us behind the scenes of our favorite sports and given us a peek into the lives of coaches, general managers, athletic directors and of course, athletes. The new series NBA Rooks gives us a look at what it’s like to be a rookie in the NBA as they make their way into the league, from the NBA Draft Lottery through the 2019-2020 season.
The latest episode, titled “Start Spreading the News,” focuses on RJ Barrett’s debut in New York and playing in Madison Square Garden against his longtime friend/rival Coby White.
This episode is unique in that it is much more focused on just two of the six players. Ja Morant, De’Andre Hunter and Bol Bol are completely absent from this episode while Zion Williamson only appears in a brief segment to discuss his injury and recovery process.
Instead, we follow Barrett in New York as he prepares for his next game in Madison Square Garden. We see a lot of the star rookie doing just about everything but playing basketball for the first half of the episode, including eating a New York restaurant with his teammates, traveling with his family and walking through a park with an old friend. We also hear a great deal from Knicks fans, which is borderline unbearable, and that’s coming from someone who grew up in New Jersey.
I have to say, I enjoy this format of for this series. With the episodes being as short as 10 minutes, it’s difficult to share what’s going on with all six players. Picking just a couple of them allows us to go more in depth and learn more about these players.
With that being said, I would still like to see a little more basketball. We really only see pieces from one game in this episode and we don’t get to it until about the 10-minute mark. For an episode with an 11-minute and 40-second runtime, that’s not a lot of basketball.
Aside from that though, I enjoyed the look into Barrett’s life and especially liked the conversation he had with White. It was interesting to hear about how they grew up playing against each other, from AAU to College. They took their rivalry to the next level when Barrett went to Duke and White went to the University of North Carolina, two schools who share possibly the biggest rivalry in all of sports. Watching these two players share stories from all their years playing against each other is fun to watch.
The reason for the focus on these two players in this episode, was the recent game between the Knicks and the Bulls in which these two faced off yet again. As I mentioned before though, we don’t see a whole lot of that game. It would have been nice to see more.
Overall, this is a pretty enjoyable episode of NBA Rooks and one I would like to see determine the format of future episodes. Two players is plenty to focus on in just a 10-minutes episode. Let’s see if that catches on.
The first eight episodes of NBA Rooks are available now on ESPN+. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and can cancel at any time.