Knicks in Saratoga: Final Thoughts

The Knicks left town yesterday afternoon, and I felt more than a little sad to see them go. They're a strikingly friendly group of guys, from the coaches and staff right down to the players. I've got some interviews and stories to share (the final videos will go up tomorrow), but for the moment let's review some major themes from practice.

- Forget most of what Mike D'Antoni said earlier this summer about changing up his style. While I'm sure he'll adapt to his new roster, Coach D is undoubtedly running and/or gunning whenever possible. I don't know if you could fully grasp it from the grainy practice videos I posted, but the five-on-five drills were mostly run with an 8-second shot clock after a missed shot was rebounded by the opposing team.

- I wasn't pleased with the Chris Duhon signing because, well, we was pretty much completely uninteresting in Chicago, but I've gotta say I'm on board now. Du looked like the smartest guy on the floor for all of training camp. He knew the plays and drills better than anyone, and kept his cool when things got chaotic (as they did quite a bit in practice). Our friends at Blog-a-Bull might be chortling in their little saddles at that notion (For some reason, I always picture Bulls fans riding actual bulls. I'm also incapable of bathing myself.), but I'm feeling good about Duhon as D'Antoni's leader and on-court representative.

- Patrick Ewing Jr. is one of the nicer guys on the team, but I'm worried about his future. Pat made it clear that he's as athletically capable as anyone on the team, but looked a little tense throughout camp. He was dropping passes, committing fouls, and generally lacking in confidence throughout. I'm sure if he sharpens his game and commits to defense that he can make a career for himself, but I wonder if he's got Walsha nd D'Antoni convinced.

- Two fun trends: 1. Danilo Gallinari calls for ice and tape by yelling "chico!" at the nearest trainer. Now all the guys do it. UPDATE: "Chico" is Anthony Goenaga's nickname, and it wasn't coined by Gallinari. Oh well. Thanks to Alan Hahn for the tip. 2.  When anybody shoots from the outside, someone else (usually Jerome James) yells "BANG BANG (name)!". Example: "BANG BANG MARDY COLLINS!".

- Speaking of which, Collins looks improved, and carried himself confidently in practice. He's getting to the basket with great success, and while his jump shot isn't any prettier, it does appear to be falling more.

- David Lee's shot wasn't falling all that consistently (Which isn't unusual. Nobody's shots were falling.), but he's certainly more willing to face the basket and operate from 18+ feet out. That also means putting the ball on the floor and making some guard-like moves to the rim. He also looks more focused and poised on defense, and was probably the most vocal of anybody on that end. This could be a year in which D-Lee proves that he's got all the tools to succeed in the D'Antoni system.

- Nate Robinson looks as talented as ever, but he's really going to have to impress D'Antoni to take minutes away from Duhon and Marbury, the latter of whom looks healthy and focused.

- Training camp towel boys fear Quentin Richardson. He's as emotional in practice as most people are in playoff games.

- Zach Randolph loves to shoot from outside, and Coach doesn't seem to have an issue with that.

- Mike D'Antoni is unbelievably nice and also smells fantastic.

And that's all she wrote. I've got one more tape of videos to come tomorrow morning (probably), then we'll wrap up training camp coverage and get ready for the preseason. Stay sweet.

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