The New York Knicks remained undefeated in the Las Vegas Summer League. That’s right, a team comprised of mostly wing players is 3-0 heading into the tournament bracket part of the summer, where all team will begin competing for a summer league championship.
Game Two: After a comfortable win in game one, the Knicks found themselves in a tight contest with a talented Portland Trailblazers team, which includes standouts like Thomas Robinson and C.J. McCollum. The Knicks ended up winning that contest 71-69 on a last-minute floater by Shane Larkin and a few timely stops on the defensive end. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the team with 20 points and Cleanthony Early contributed 11 points and six boards. Shannon Brown also had 12 points off the bench and seems to be taking on the veteran presence role for the youngsters on the summer league squad.
Game Three: The Knicks played the role of summer league bully in this contest against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday afternoon. The Knicks had an offensive explosion in the first half, dropping 61 points in two shortened quarters of basketball. They never let up and ended up winning the game 95-72 when it was all said and done. Jeremy Tyler led all scorers with 19 points and added eight rebounds while undrafted free agent Langston Galloway erupted in the first-half for 15 of his 17 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. also continued to light it up on the offensive end with 17 points, including 3-5 from behind the three point line.
Here’s where where the players rank in summer league stock after three games:
Tim Hardaway Jr.
In three summer league contests, Hardaway Jr. has racked up 62 combined points. He continues to be the focal point of the Knicks summer league roster and seems to be trying to expand his game. If he can continue this type of play this summer, continue to work on his defense and become more of a vocal leader on the floor, Hardaway Jr. will become the unquestioned sixth-man for the Knicks this upcoming season.
After not playing until the second half of game one and having a foul-troubled game two, Tyler bounced back nicely against the Charlotte Hornets in game three. He led the Knicks in scoring and showed that he can play within the triangle offense. Tyler had his 15-foot jumper working throughout the game and showed some really great passing skills out of the post. Tyler has a ton of talent and the Knicks are going to have a tough time not giving him an invite to training camp because they could use a developmental power-forward on the roster.
After coming over in the trade with Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert, Larkin was portrayed as a throw-in piece of the deal. However, through three games he has showed the reasons why he was a first-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft. Larkin is a solid floor general for a 21-year-old kid, and while he doesn’t have the size or explosiveness of some of today’s point guards, he is a fierce competitor on the court. Larkin has shown a quick first step to slash into the lane and is just as instinctive on the defensive end when he plays the passing lanes. Larkin should end up taking the third point guard spot behind Pablo Prigioni and the aforementioned Calderon.
After a quiet first two games, the score-first point guard out of St. Joseph’s finally came to life in game three against the Hornets. Galloway scored 15 points in the second quarter of game three and showed nice touch from the outside, as well as the ability to drive and finish in the lane. It will be interesting to see the role Galloway plays moving forward. His defense is a question mark, but at 6’2″ Galloway has the size and three point prowess that Phil Jackson likes in his point-guards. Can he continue his impressive summer and push for a training camp invite?
Cleanthony Early has shown signs of why he should have been a first round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. This summer Early is averaging 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and one blocks per game. That’s a solid all-around game, and just what you’d expect from a 23-year old rookie. Early has a chance to be an instant contributor after showing the coaching staff that he will be the instant-energy type of rookie the Knicks wanted on their roster for the 2014-15 campaign.
Zane Johnson, Brandon Triche and Jordan Vandenberg
All of these players have received limited playing time and have failed to impress in the short time they have been given. They may not receive a ton of minutes moving forward given the fact that the summer league tournament will begin on Thursday.
Stayed The Same
Henriquez has shown the ability to do one thing consistently and that is rebound. Aside from that it’s clear his game will need some work before he is ready to be and NBA rotational big man. Maybe the Knicks can stash him in the D-League for this upcoming season.
The amount of energy the older Antetokounmpo brother brings on the court is undeniable, but it’s also easy to see why many see him as a project. On the offensive end his game leaves a lot to be desired, but his non-stop motor and all out effort on every play make it easy to see why Phil Jackson drafted him. Thanasis has all the ability to be a very good NBA player, but he needs a little more time to develop to be a threat on offense. He will be a player to watch on the roster bubble, but he’s the type of player the New York fans will embrace and cheer for game-in and game-out.
Hard to believe that Shannon Brown has taken on the role of leader among his D-League teammates. It seems like just yesterday that Brown was that high-flying finisher on the Los Angeles Lakers behind Kobe Bryant. Today, at 29-years-old, Brown is fighting for his NBA career after a few injuries derailed him. Brown still shows the ability to get to the rim and given his knowledge of the triangle offense from his Laker days, it would seem he has a decent chance of sticking on the roster. The only thing working against him is that the Knicks have three shooting-guards that will require playing time in J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr., that in itself will be a dilemma for coach Fisher from day one.
Coming Up Next
The Las Vegas Summer League Tournament will get underway on Thursday, July 17th, and the official schedule will be out shortly. The Knicks will certainly be one of the teams to watch in the tournament.
Who has impressed you the most during the summer league? Let us know in the comments section below!
FOLLOW Aaron on Twitter