RJ Barrett lighting it up in the Knicks’ bubble

On the eve of the NBA Finals, RJ Barrett had his best practice in the bubble.

Of course, not that bubble.

The Knicks are in their own Manhattan/Westchester bubble, winding down “Delete 8’’ OTAs — away from the national spotlight of Orlando’s Disney World.

But it’s a start for the face of the Knicks franchise who never saw his rookie season completed. Just as Barrett was coming on strong, the pandemic canceled the Knicks’ season on March 11 in Atlanta. It may have cost him any chance of all-rookie honors — as he was left off both teams.

Sources say Barrett, the third pick in last year’s draft who turned 20 in June, was itching to get back onto the practice court more than any Knick after a six-month hiatus.

Wednesday will stand as the last of the Knicks’ group practices, but new coach Tom Thibodeau said some players will stick around for “individual’’ workouts and film sessions for another six days.

“That stuff, I think a lot of that is tied to team success,’’ Thibodeau said on Zoom about Barrett’s snub. “And that’s what everyone has to understand. The better a team does, the more recognition the players will get. So that’s the past. I want him looking forward.”

On the seventh day of scrimmages, Barrett looked like the No. 3 pick, according to the new Knicks coach. During the abbreviated season Barrett averaged 14.3 points but shot just 40.2 percent with poor analytics.

“Today, he had a terrific practice,’’ Thibodeau said. “Today was his best practice. He was rebounding the ball extremely well, he made plays, did a great job with that. So I just want him to concentrate on improvement.

“He’s a young player. Just getting the work part down. That’s the first step. Conditioning, continuing to work on his shooting. There’s a lot of things that he can do well.’’

The eight clubs who missed out on the Orlando restart in July staged these voluntary OTAs. It gave the Knicks’ new coaching staff a chance to work with their youngsters, including their last three lottery picks, Barrett, Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina.

It also allowed veteran Julius Randle, who is signed for two more years, a chance to bond with Thibodeau as the club stayed in a Manhattan hotel.

Randle was one of the few veterans to stick around for the group sessions and the coach said it showed “leadership.”

“The thing that pleased me most was that he came in prior to even Phase 1 and spent time with us and then he was there for Phase 1 and then came in for Phase 2,’’ Thibodeau said. “He’s a pro’s pro. He’s in great shape. He’s willing to work and do anything that you ask.

“Having that type of leadership is important for our team. We need a consistency from our entire team and we also need for everyone to want to continue to improve and I think he’s shown that and he demonstrated that to me over the past three or four weeks.”

Neither Randle nor Barrett were made available to the media. In fact, the Knicks didn’t make any player available during OTAs. Because the OTAs were voluntary, the players weren’t required. However, the other seven teams made multiple players available on Zoom calls.

Thibodeau worked as an associate coach under Doc Rivers in Boston from 2007-10. Rivers was let go by the Clippers on Monday.

“I was surprised like most people,’’ Thibodeau said. “Obviously I spent a lot of time out there this past season [in LA]. He’s one of my closest friends. We worked together in Boston. Doc is not only a great, great, coach, he’s also a great person. I’m sure he’ll be back very soon. He’s a terrific leader and great coach. It sort of shows the nature of our league and there’s constant change.”

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