The Knicks' Summer League squad got torched in Vegas last night. DaJuan Summers and Austin Daye were more than the Knick youngsters could handle, and Detroit controlled the action from very early on. Summer League's just an audition for the real thing, though. Let's take a look at which Knicks made waves on Day 2. What we saw wasn't all that different from Day 1, so I'll be brief.
Toney Douglas- We know from testament and footage alike that Toney can shoot the ball. He's got a weird, pushy form, though, that looks pretty ugly when it's not connecting. And it hasn't been. After shooting 2-13 on Tuesday, Toney was 1-6 from last night. Part of it is that his jumpers have often been forced and out of rhythm. Whether that's a case of the jitters or a product of unfamiliar teammates I'm not sure. Based on what we've seen, though, Toney's stroke should return.
Ghostface's passing continued to impress yesterday, and he made a few more of the "homerun" passes I was clamoring for in the first game. He still prefers to get a step on his own man, then kick out to the perimeter (much to the delight of Mr. Tskitishvili), but he hit a couple cutters and threw a nice alley-oop to Jordan Hill as well. The Knicks have good passers, though. What we're really looking for is someone with the verve to lead a team from the point guard spot. If these two games are any indicator, Douglas is as good a candidate as any. On one intriguing possession, some Knick was dawdling at the top of the key. Toney looked his way and demanded the ball with an unmistakable thug clap. After receiving the ball, he guided Jordan Hill through a screen-and-roll and fed him with a beautiful pass underneath. Hill missed the finish, but Toney made it clear that he's not afraid to play point guard like a boss amongst the summer league youngsters. He's the king of the sandbox, but can he command a team of veterans? I certainly hope so.
Jordan Hill- Hill's still got to get his legs under him and go up strong more often, but he at least looked a little more assertive in this one. Hill cans jumpers with confidence out to 18 feet, but he's not so bold under the rim. He fades and bends far too much. On one particularly telling play, Hill went up to defend a slashing DaJuan Summers, but didn't really commit himself. Summers punished him by making the basket and muscling Hill to the floor, drawing the foul. Hill's got to play bigger, but to be fair, Summers is a goddamn beast. The man is enormous.
If Hill ever does become an Amare Stoudemire-type, he'll reach that point from another direction. Stoudemire was a high-flying bruiser who learned the arts of tact and finesse. Hill's already got good touch, a clear head, and the manners of a gentleman. He needs an injection of brute force- the mentality and muscle with which Amare was blessed. Just like with Douglas, the video shows flashes of the player we'd like to see.
Joe Crawford and Morris Almond- One of these guys is going to get real minutes at the two-spot. Crawford once again showed a number of skills, canning some outside shots, charging the rim like an ox, and really getting after loose balls. Almond, meanwhile, pulls from absolutely anywhere, and usually doesn't miss. One's a pure shooter, the other's sturdier and more complete. I'd be happy with either one understudying or even replacing Larry Hughes as D'Antoni's preferred shooting guard.
Mouhamed Sene- I'm pretty sure Sene would try to swat a newborn baby if you tossed it high enough.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili- All I'm saying is if Skita's jersey said "Gallinari" on the back, we would be going bonkers right now.
Yaroslav Korolev- Korolev's not going to get a training camp invite, but I just want him to know that we appreciate him. Keep at it, Yaroslav.
Rashaad Singleton- This guy hasn't actually played a minute yet, but I see no reason why a 22 year-old seven-footer who broke the bench press record at the combine shouldn't get to spin a little. He'd either dominate the opposition or do something funny like pop a basketball. Strong people are always entertaining.
- "I've been counting more sheep than cards"- Walt Frazier, setting the bar for old-man-in-Vegas jokes.
- Chris Duhon's charity golf thing looked like a success. He rounded up some New York celebs and generated some funds for his hometown of Slidell, Louisiana, which is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Incidentally, I was watching UFC with some bros last night, and one of the fighters was from Slidell. I mentioned that that was also Chris Duhon's hometown, and got uniformly glared at. FML, I guess.
- Oh also, I've never played or watched golf in my life, but I can tell you without a doubt that Chris Duhon's golf swing is horrendous. He completely whiffed one drive.
- Donnie Walsh sat in the booth with Clyde and Breen for a few minutes, and was remarkably candid throughout. Breen kept lobbing him compliments about Toney Douglas, but Walsh would repeatedly revert to criticizing Toney's poor shooting of late. He made a point, too, of Jordan Hill's need to add muscle and get in shape. We also learned that Walsh tried to trade for Morris Almond last year, which certainly suggests that Mo Nuts will, at the very least, get a Saratoga invite.
- I'd like to take this opportunity to once again pitch my TV gameshow "Walsh or Diesel?" in which contestants are played a clip of either Donnie Walsh or Vin Diesel talking, and have to guess which one it is.
- It's really amusing how completely bored the hundreds of the kids in the crowd are at Summer League. The camera kept panning across rows and rows of children slapping each other, playing Gameboys (or whatever it is that kids play these days), or straight-up napping. What, Warren Carter isn't good enough for you guys? Brats.
- Watching the Senegalese Mouhamed Sene and the Georgian Nikoloz Tskitishvili both try and reject the same shot gave me the idea for a straight-to-video film series called Intercontinental Block Party. It's clips of foreign guys playing defense set to dance music from around the world. Email me to reserve a copy.
The SummerKnicks are in action again on Friday, when they'll face Tyreke Evans and the SummerKings. SummerKings would be a good name for a boy band.