The more things stay the same, the more they stay the same. The Knicks' Summer League squad remained winless in Las Vegas last night, bowing to the Kings, 84-71. The defense was ugly, the shooting was worse, and this one was over long before the final whistle. Nobody's counting wins and losses, though, so let's get to the individual reports.
Toney Douglas- Early on, I wrote in my notes that I'd like Toney to draw contact more often. There were a few plays in which he'd found a seam, but wasted it by forcing a kick-out, sometimes to an unexpecting teammate. As the game progressed, though, Toney grew bolder and more willing to take some hits. The good thing is that he's already strong enough to finish with contact. His and-one attempts kept rimming out (this will be a theme of the recap), but 7-10 from the line ain't bad. The rest of his offense was as it has been: speedy drives, simple passes, and inaccurate shooting. In fact, one of Toney's best outside attempts was a mishandled pass that somehow found its way towards the rim, but clanged out. He did add a few successful righty floaters into the mix, which gets the P&T stamp of approval.
It's the defensive end, though, that's really got me hot and bothered about Toney Douglas. Tyreke Evans is a big fellow, but Toney gave him all he could handle in the backcourt. Douglas was quick enough to stay in front of him and sturdy enough to withstand many of his drives. If I have any criticism, it's that ducking under picks when Evans has the ball might not be a terrible idea. A few of his baskets came when Douglas got hung up fighting over screens. I'd say you challenge Evans to can a few jumpers before you trail him that closely on the perimeter. Otherwise, Douglas more than held his own against the draft's #4 pick. The man can defend.
Jordan Hill- Hill continues to show that he's a project. He's got most of the movement down, at least on offense, but he's just not strong or active enough to avoid getting bulldozed. He reminds me of a player I created in FIFA '09 the other day. His name was Francois Rampage. He was black with a white afro and a red mustache. He was 6'9'' and weighed 114 pounds. He had all the offensive talent in the world (Literally. I gave it to him.), but was just too light and flimsy to withstand any sort of contact. It's tragic, really.
Anyway, we need to be patient with Jordan Hill. He's got room to grow, and I believe he will. Just channel your draft-related druthers into Darko Milicic worship for now.
Morris Almond- If it's up to me, Morris Almond will make the team. Then again, if it were up to me, Brian Greene would be starting at all five positions. Nonetheless, Almond can shoot holes in the nets, but it's the rest of his game that continues to impress. For one, Mo Nuts has shown off some very fluid diagonal drives to the basket. His finishes just wouldn't fall, but he's got the right combination of size and speed to score in the paint. Just ask Omri Casspi, who became the first Israeli player on an NBA poster. Meanwhile, Nuts showed that he's no slouch when he commits himself on defense, hounding Casspi into a couple of bad, bad misses. Morris Almond deserves to be a Knick, and I believe he will be.
Blake Ahearn- I've heard great things about Blake Ahearn as a player and person, and I really feel for the guy after these last three performances. The man just can't get it done on defense, and has far from made up for it with his offensive play.
Mouhamed Sene- I wonder if Mou's ever played volleyball?
Warren Carter- Warren Carter's got a delightfully presidential name, and he's making me wish the Knicks had room for him in the frontcourt. I feel like a Renaldo Balkman comparison is cheap, what with the hair and all, but that's who his energetic play brings to mind. Hustle harder, Warren. You'll get yours.
Yarsolav Korolev- Poor, sweet Yarsolav.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili- Nothing new here. Just more dominance in absolutely every aspect of the game. He even pulled out a few behind-the-back dribbles, thus adding "Skeet to my Lou" to his already lengthy list of brilliant nicknames.
And that's it for now, amigos y amigas. We're back in action at 6 p.m. tonight, so come right on back to join the thread. Summer League's gonna be over soon, so get your pithy comments in while there's still time.