After a disappointing playoff exit to the Pacers, die-hard Knicks fans will look to the Las Vegas Summer league to turn the page into another season. This year the Summer League will feature a new format in which a champion will be crowned. While this is irrelevant to most people, the real purpose of the summer league is to asses young talent, and possibly find a diamond in the rough. After Chris Copeland emerged from the league as a major contributor to the Knicks roster, many Knicks fans should be intrigued. The Knicks will tip-off their Summer League Schedule against the Pelicans on July 12.
Here’s a look at the Knicks Summer League Roster:
Iman Shumpert - Shump will use the Summer League as a platform to continue his development coming off ACL surgery. Going into next season he is looking to take a big step into a more prominent role, and his desire to improve is encouraging for the Knicks. Shump acknowledged his disappointment in the way last season ended and is determined to pick up where he left off. Also, the Knicks would like to get a better look at Shump running the point, so expect him to get some reps there.
Tim Hardaway Jr - The Summer League will provide Knicks fans a look at their first-round pick. Hardaway Jr will look to show off his shot making ability and explosiveness. I’d expect him to be very aggressive on the offensive side of the ball. He will also use the Summer League to improve on the defensive end. Timmy should use this opportunity to make a quick impression on the Knicks and their fans. Along with Iman Shumpert, he will be the main reason why many Knicks fans tune in. Will Tim Hardaway Jr be the heir apparent to JR Smith?
CJ Leslie – Leslie will be interesting to watch during the Summer League. He will surely come in with a chip on his shoulder after not being drafted. The Summer League will give him the opportunity to show off his athleticism and versatlity. Considered by many as a first-round talent, he may be able to prove himself worthy of a roster spot.
Chris Smith – Chris Smith, the younger brother of JR, was invited back to join the Knicks Summer League roster. He will use the Summer League to prove he is at full strength after suffering an ACL tear last preseason. Smith will need to show improvements in both his point guard skills and overall offensive ability to have any chance at landing a roster spot. While he is a long-shot to make the Knicks roster, he may be able to impress another team and latch on elsewhere.
Jerome Jordan – A familiar name to most Knicks fans, Jordan played sparingly for the Knicks in 2011-2012 before being included in the Marcus Camby trade. Jordan played on the Summer League team last season, but under CBA rules was not allowed to sign with Knicks until July 2013. Knicks have always liked Jordan, who could add depth to the team’s front court. Jerome played in the D-League last season, and averaged 13 points, 2 blocks, and just under 8 boards a game.
Tony Mitchell - Not to be confused with the Tony Mitchell from North Texas, this Tony Mitchell is a G/F who played collegiality at Alabama. One of the highest regarded players in the D-League, Mitchell averaged 21.9 points, 6.4 boards, 2.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. He was awarded the D-League Rookie of the Year award for his efforts. Mitchell could add athleticism and versatility to a NBA roster. As his numbers show, he can do a little bit of everything. The negative on Mitchell seems to be his attitude. He was suspended by Alabama for part of his junior season for undisclosed reasons, and often portrayed bad body language while in the D-League.
Toure Murry - Murry is another D-League guy, who played his college ball at Wichita State. With Rio Grande Valley of the D-League, he averaged 8.3 points, 3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. Murry is combo guard, but his best shot at playing in the NBA would be to refine his point guard skills. He is a decent ball handler and at 6-5 could be an interesting point guard prospect. Toure is a crafty finisher at the rim and excels in transition.
AJ Matthews – The Brooklyn, NY product made a solid impression on the Knicks in his pre-draft work out. The 7-1 center played at Farmingdale State, a Division III school, and obviously was not exposed to the highest level of competition. Matthews averaged 22.5 points on 66% shooting,16 rebounds, and just under 4 blocks per game. Matthews size alone will always make him a commodity to NBA teams. The Knicks will present him with an opportunity, it will be his job to show he belongs.
Note: The Knicks have also extended an offer to Center Henry Sims to join the Summer League Roster.