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What are your thoughts on the New York Knicks performance in the NBA summer league?
Joe Caporoso - My biggest take away is that I feel more comfortable with the Knicks selection of Tim Hardway Jr and decision to guarantee part of CJ Leslie’s contract. THJ looks how a first round pick should look in the summer league and is going to have a bigger than expected role early in the season because of JR Smith’s injury. He has the athleticism to be a factor on the wing and while he won’t provide the scoring JR Smith does, he has the look of a competent rotation player for the 2013-2014 season. Leslie is a little further away but is going to make the team’s final roster. He is too raw at this point to expect regular rotation minutes in his rookie year but by the 2014-2015 season, he should be ready to be a contributor off the bench.
There is understandable optimism about Jeremy Tyler who should at least get a camp invite. It’d be foolish to expect him to handle the backup center role but maybe with a strong pre-season, he ends up the 15th man this season or at least receives future consideration from the team. Oh and Jerome Jordan still can’t play…same goes for Chris Smith.
Chris Celletti - Tim Hardaway, Jr. hasn’t proven anything yet, but it’s been good to see him at least show the ability to score. He hasn’t been very efficient, but almost nobody in Summer League play is efficient, and you’d rather have your first round draft pick taking a lot of the shots than say, J’Covan Brown or somebody else. Additionally, I never understood why Iman Shumpert was supposed to play in the Summer League to begin with; the dude was one of the Knicks’ best players in the NBA freakin’ playoffs just a few months ago; he shouldn’t be on the same court as 95% of the people who make up Summer League rosters. Thankfully, he’s out unscathed.
The Knicks are still in need of a few pieces, namely a backup point guard and backup center. There are no candidates for the former, but there have been rumblings that for the latter, Jeremy Tyler may get a training camp invite. A) he’s a big body and B) he’s still just 22 years old. Big men take a lot longer to develop, and remember that Tyler has made some questionable basketball decisions in the past that may have affected where he’s at in his development. There could still be some untapped potential there, so let’s see if he can close out the playoff portion of the Summer League well after a few decent performances early on.
Kevin Smith - I personally love the Summer League, not because of the thrilling gameplay (and by thrilling I mean generally sloppy and unorganized), but simply because it’s not baseball. All the air balls and turnovers in the world can’t keep us basketball fans from tuning out the monotony of “America’s pastime” for a couple weeks and getting a preview of the NBA’s future, especially when it’s 95 degrees and humid outside. The Knicks have lost two of their three games so far, but at least we got a glimpse at some possible end of the roster guys. Here’s what I took from their Summer League experience so far:
Iman Shumpert - The only thing Shump tweaked in Vegas was his hairdo, which now features an orange tip in the front, so let’s all let out a collective exhale in celebration of his health. Shump can’t be too happy about practicing for a week only to play in one game, but I guess there are worse places to be stuck in for a few days…
Tim Hardaway Jr. - Now that J.R. Smith is likely to miss the start of the season, THJ is going to need to step up. He played aggressively, leading the Knicks in scoring in their first game, and throwing down a thunderous dunk in his second, before leaving with a bruised wrist. As Joe Cap said on Twitter:
@TurnOnTheKnicks: Are we sure Tim Hardaway Jr is really day to day? Are we sure it isn’t month to moth? Year to year?
All joking aside, Hardaway Jr. is just fine, but an injury on something as simple bracing his fall makes me question his durability. Hopefully it’s nothing but an outlier.
C.J. Leslie - I think Leslie ultimately makes the opening night roster. So far, he has proven that he moves well off of the ball, and although I would have liked to see him a little more aggressive without Shump and THJ, his upside is enough to warrant a spot alone. I liken his roster spot to that of Copeland’s last year. Anything he gives the Knicks early on is gravy and if he develops in to a rotation guy, that’s great. But if he doesn’t pan out it barely costs New York a thing.
Jeremy Tyler - Tyler has emerged as a possible option if the Knicks are unable to re-sign Kenyon Martin, but that would be a heck of a downgrade. Although he showed he can hang in the Summer League, it’s easier cleaning the glass when you’re one of the bigger guys on the floor, which he won’t come close to being in the NBA. Still, it seems likely that he’ll get the invite to training camp, so at least he’ll have the chance to prove himself.
Chris Smith - He’s just not NBA material, but at least he has a better chance of suiting up on opening night than his brother.
Toure Murry - I’m impressed by the transition he’s made from a two guard to a one, but the only way he gets a shot to make the team is if the Knicks don’t sign another point guard.
Chris Connolly - The Summer League is one of the most exciting weeks of the offseason, if not the most exciting. It is a time for teams to showcase their draft picks, as well as some under the radar talent. I think the most hyped up player for the Knicks coming in was CJ Leslie. After seeing Leslie play, you can tell he is a long ways away. As advertised, the athleticism is there. The problem with Leslie is his small frame, which would make it difficult for him to compete at the PF position, and also his perimeter struggles. He is trying to make a tough adjustment from PF in college, to more of a SF role in the NBA. To be an impact NBA player, Leslie needs to be getting up thousands of jump shots daily and also continue to work in the weight room to fill out his body. He is definitely a work in progress and could be a nice contributor down the road.
Jeremy Tyler is another name that has drawn some interest from Knicks fans. While he has shown some bright spots, I still think he is a little immature. Far too many times Tyler has let his emotions get the best of him and this is only Summer League. You cannot dispute the fact he has talent; but I believe he could use some time in the D-League to continue to harness his game. Regardless, Tyler and Leslie will both ultimately end up with training camp invites. Leslie should make the opening night roster, and depending on the future of Kenyon Martin, Tyler could also find himself on the team as an end of the bench guy.
Lastly I’ll take the opportunity to discuss Chris Smith, hopefully for the last time as it pertains to the Knicks. I still cannot get his tweet at the end of the Pacer series out of my head. In the tweet, Chris stated that he and his brother would be on the court for the Knicks this coming season. His sense of entitlement was laughable then, and it is even more laughable after watching his performance in the Summer League. I hope he became familiar with “Flight White” last season, because he will surely be following him overseas next year.
Chris DiGioia – This may sound like a cop-out, because we are all aware of his potential already, but I want focus on Iman Shumpert. The Summer League has produced some of the NBA’s best players today, before we even really knew what they could be become, but the dedication Shump showed was encouraging. He said he wanted to play in the league so he can help round out his inconsistent offensive play, and become more decisive with the basketball, two factors of his game that seem to be up in the air at this point. He went through the week of practice with the team and participated in the first game before heading overseas to China NBA promotional appearances.
The Knicks have a “win-now” roster, so let’s just face the facts, these players are not going to have too much of an impact on the Knicks, at least this season. That’s why I shift my focus to Shump. If Shumpert can polish his offense skills over the summer and show the Knicks he can improve in different areas with the basketball, it’s only going to increase his chances of becoming a borderline All-Star player. Beyond that, I like the aggressiveness of the first round draft pick Tim Hardaway Jr., and it is vital he continues to build his game so he can fit at the NBA level.