For the last week, RJ Barrett has partnered during the Knicks’ “individual” workouts with new assistant coach Johnnie Bryant.
Under the initial stage of the “Delete 8’’ OTAs at the Knicks’ Tarrytown campus, only individual workouts were allowed.
The ground rules: one player on a court with one coach. Four courts going at one time.
After the last 48 hours quarantining in a Westchester hotel, new head coach Tom Thibodeau is ready to conduct Wednesday’s first group practice.
That Barrett got mostly paired with the former Jazz coach Bryant is not a bad thing if you want the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft to turn out like Utah’s Donovan Mitchell.
Observers to the first week of OTAs have noticed Barrett, always solidly built, looking even more ripped after a pandemic spent mostly in his home in Orlando, Fla.
The 100 voters, including broadcasters, TV/radio analysts and print journalists, for last week’s NBA All-Rookie team do not expect Barrett to come close to Mitchell.
In an eye-opening result, Barrett did not finish among the top-10 rookies, missing out on the two all-rookie teams. (Despite his war with James Dolan, TNT’s Marv Albert voted for Barrett.)
Considering Barrett is the Knicks’ most important bedrock piece, being left off both teams wasn’t a good sign. Relatively obscure first-year players such as P.J. Washington (Charlotte) and Terrence Davis (Toronto) edged Barrett out for second-team honors.
“I thought he should have made it,’’ said one NBA head coach. “He had a significant role. Davis had a solid season but in a much lesser role.”
Barrett came close, finishing with 61 points — 13 shy of supplanting Washington’s Rui Hachimura. Barrett notched five first-team votes and 41 second-team votes.
The first sign of Barrett missing out came this summer when John Hollinger, the former Memphis executive and now contributor to The Athletic, released his ballot and it didn’t contain the third pick in the draft.
Hollinger is an analytics pioneer and even Barrett’s standard numbers don’t scream efficiency. Yes, Barrett shot just 40.2 percent from the field — 32 percent from 3-point range. His free-throw shooting — as in college — was erratic (61.4 percent).
But if you watched him every night, Barrett showed enough to cement himself as a legitimate longtime starter with the instincts and potential to crash an All-Star team one day.
At age 19 and playing without a point guard who was looking out for him, the 6-foot-7 Barrett averaged 14.6 points. He was a terrific rebounder for a guard (5.0 per game) and often made the right pass (2.6 assists) despite not having a strong supporting cast.
And there’s something to be said about Barrett gracefully handling the microscope of being the No. 3 pick and Knick savior — the type of scrutiny Kevin Durant wanted no part of.
As for intangibles, Barrett logged 30.4 minutes a night and was extremely durable — something a certain Latvian former high lottery pick has never displayed, still.
Barrett suffered one late-season ankle injury and played 56 of the 66 games the Knicks were permitted to play under Adam Silver’s pandemic rules. Instead of smacking into a wall like many rookies playing big minutes, he actually was coming on strong in March and saw an uptick in his percentages.
In the Rising Stars Challenge, Barrett didn’t know any other way to play but hard — racking up a game-high 27 points and ticking off his Duke buddy Zion Williamson for being too competitive. Williamson took umbrage when Barrett laid a hard foul on him. Williamson made the first team despite spending most of the season rehabbing a surgically repaired knee.
“You want someone who loves the game and would play for free,’’ one talent evaluator told The Post recently. “That strikes me as RJ.’’
One of the reasons Knicks rookie president Leon Rose and vice president William Wesley were sold on hiring Bryant for Thibodeau’s staff wasn’t just because he’s a Creative Artists Agency client but his work with Mitchell and Damian Lillard.
Though Lilliard has spent his career in Portland, Bryant is considered Lillard’s mentor. They both are from Oakland, Calif.
Barrett won’t be able to work much anymore with his godfather, Steve Nash, who became head coach of the archrival Nets.
In January, Nash, attending the Knicks-Lakers game, told The Post: “It’s remarkable to see him at 19 play at this level, excel at this level. You see so much upside and potential. He’s going to have an exciting career.”
Tell that to the voters.
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