As part of the NBA's plan for non-bubble teams to begin an offseason workout program from Sept. 14 - Oct. 6, newly-minted New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has finally gotten an opportunity to truly get acquainted with his new team.
One player, that's impressed him? 20-year-old RJ Barrett.
"The offseason is critical for any young player," Thibodeau told the press after New York's first full team workout on Wednesday. "(RJ's) been great, he's been eager, he's in and working hard."
Always grinding 😤 pic.twitter.com/8Oc8DhnXQA- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) September 16, 2020
It's an especially important offseason for Barrett, who experienced a number of challenges during his rookie year, including an ankle injury that sidelined him for two weeks in late January and a midseason coaching change, which is difficult for any player but especially difficult for a rookie.
Back in February, NBA.com caught up with Barrett, who elaborated on these challenges, saying: "It's been so many ups and downs and I cherish it because I know I hope to be here for a very long time, so going through the ups and downs early is good."
Barrett, who was selected third overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, did not receive All-Rookie honours despite averaging 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists over 56 games in his rookie season.
The Canadian showed flashes of excellence, including a clutch 27-point performance in a win over the Houston Rockets. In what would ultimately be the final game of the regular season for the Knicks, Barrett scored 26 points (on 9-for-14 shooting), pulled down five boards and dished out four assists in a win over the Atlanta Hawks.
With a new foundation in place and a coach that believes in him, those types of performances could soon become the norm for Barrett.
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