Knicks season is upon us, and I had a blast interacting with much of the Knicks Faithful on Facebook and Twitter tonight, We back, baby! With that said, a few things I liked, loved and disliked about tonight’s pre-season game versus the Washington Wizards.
1. Knicks PG Depth?
-Could it be? It seems like this has always been a problem, from Day 1 of the season until the final buzzer rang in Game 82. The Knicks routinely find themselves without a capable floor general. However, if tonight’s small sample size is indicative of anything, things could get interesting as the Knicks now have at least three point-guards who might be fully capable of starting in the NBA.
– They were without Dennis Smith Jr. tonight, who was having mild back troubles. Elfrid Payton started the game and looked great. I know a huge section of Knicks fans (myself included) love Ntilikina and think he can be an important leader, but don’t take anything from EP. He controlled the pace extremely well, and consistently found himself driving to the basket to find his teammates. That’s what we want to see! Seriously, how many times did we all scream at our televisions when Jose Calderon would dribble all the way up court (slowly) and stop at the top of the three-point line. Those days should be behind us. Frank Ntilikina looked as aggressive as I’ve ever seen him. He finished tied with Taj Gibson for the highest +/- on the team, and controlled the pace as well. When Dennis Smith Jr. comes back, he will play. Will be interesting to see how things pan out for these three point guards.
2. Marcus Morris, we love you.
– Since he inked his deal, Mook has been talking his shit. The fans ate it up all summer and coming into today we were all looking forward to what he promised to bring to the game. He brought it. He dominated the first half, finishing with 17pts/7rbs/2asts. He followed that up by cursing at halftime, and then followed that up by getting ejected after putting Justin Anderson in his place. After the game, David Fizdale said Morris was receptive to the fact that maybe he should have handled things differently and would not do anything to the detriment of the team. However, this is the pre-season. Get those lumps out now and put the rest of the NBA on notice. Nothing sweet over here! Aside from those viral displays, Morris was extremely effective on the offensive end, which is pleasant as he will most likely be tasked with more responsibility on that end of the floor than he’s ever had before in his career. If tonight is indicative of anything, he will be ready to answer the call.
3. Knox looked Comfortable in Reserve Role
-Knox had a huge role last year. Probably more than he was ready for. This year (at least for now) it seems like Morris is ahead of him in the small-forward rotation. This is a good thing, in my opinion. Allowing Knox to attack “weaker” units in other teams bench players could pay dividends in getting Knox more comfortable, especially as he continues to get bigger and stronger. Not only that, but a bench scorer is usually tasked with the “spark plug” role, having to have that switch turned on as soon as they enter the game. If Knox can master that part of his offense, by the time he earns the starting spot he could be an extremely potent scoring weapon.
4. RJ Barrett is a dog
-The kid responds extremely well to adversity. The first half was pretty ugly. He was clanking shot after shot. But then as the usual BS started in the third quarter, he started to turn a corner. He converted on back to back attacks to the basket and it was seemingly on from there on out. His free throw shooting was a glaring spot for improvement coming into the season, and at the end of the game it was RJ at the line with the opportunity to put this game out of reach. What’d he do? He drained both and then pointed at the Wizards bench (who were undoubtedly trying to jeer him into missing). Love that attitude from our rookie. We got one, guys. He finished the game with 17pts/7rbs/3asts going 6-13 from the field and 2-6 from deep.
5. Mitch Staying out of Foul trouble
-On the very first possession of the game, Mitchell Robinson obliterated a jump shot, picking right back up from where he left off last season. In typical Mitch fashion, he finished with four blocks on the game. What was most impressive to me though was how he went the entire first half without registering any fouls, and then had three in the second half. Last season, he always found himself in foul trouble. While the sample size is very small, if this is real improvement and more attributed to say, better timing, the league could be in serious trouble.
6. Knicks Third Quarters are back…
-This definitely falls under the category of things I dislike. I don’t know what it is, but third quarters are unusually brutal for the Knicks. Good thing we had a blue-chip prospect to level us and take charge. Thanks, RJ!
The Knicks will face the Wizards again on Friday night. Hopefully, we will get to see how Dennis Smith Jr. and Bobby Portis affect the rest of the rotation guys we saw play tonight. Will Trier play more than eight minutes? Where do EP and Frank come in with DSJ returning? How about Taj with Bobby coming back? I guess practice this week could decide a lot of this, but we also know we will most likely get a long look at every roster guy at some point this pre-season. It was a fun night Knicks fans. Till the next one!!