What's up errybody. Let's jump like Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaandry.
It's an off day for the Knicks, and with the actual regular season just around the corner, I figured I'd compile a little preseason progress report before the season begins. Let's start with something frivolous, though:
Bieber Fever from the young guys makes me feel old:
If you've already seen that, I apologize. If you haven't, I still apologize.
Now let's move on to an individual player analysis, based on what we've seen in the preseason so far:
Raymond Felton, PG: Obviously this was the hot-button issue going into the preseason, and at the very least, you could say that the issue is still unresolved. Positives I've seen: a desire to defend and compete with the opposing point guard, an ability to finish at the basket, continued energy late into games, and an undeniable swagger even when things aren't going right for him. Negatives: Pick and roll with Amare has to improve (and almost certainly will). Sometimes (like when he was playing against Rondo), you get the feeling that he gets overly frustrated with himself if things aren't going his way. Ultimately, I think it's way too early to throw Raymond under the bus, and even based on his play up to this point (and I've watched every game), that wouldn't be the logical reaction to what we've seen so far anyways. Raymond does a lot of things right and we have to realize that his combination of intelligence, talent and effort will go a long way, just give him time.
Wilson Chandler, SG----PF: With the clear exception of his atrocious first half against the Wizards, Wil the Thrill has been the biggest surprise of the preseason for the Knicks, bar none. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like I've seen him hit almost as many threes in this preseason as he had made over the course of all of last regular season. Obviously, that's not actually true, but the feeling remains. The new haircut is fresh, the added muscle necessary...I'm seeing a big year for this young man.
Danilo Gallinari, SF: Gallo has been my favorite player on the team over the past year, for obvious reasons - D. Lee was gonna be a free agent, Chandler was a bit more of a known commodity, and just about everyone else was leaving. Now, after the roster overhaul, I pretty much like the whole team. So maybe that's why I'm having a harder time tolerating what we've seen from Gallo so far this season; he's no longer the teacher's pet (me being the teacher, which makes no sense). But let's think about his game for a second. While people can complain about Stoudemire and Felton establishing the pick and roll, that's a question of chemistry; a lot of what Gallo does is his decision alone. For instance, when he gets the ball on the perimeter and he's slightly open, he can either a.) shoot it, b.) pass it, or c.) pump fake and drive. Which option gets chosen the most? Let's just say that he had 5 3pt attempts in the first six minutes against Washington. I mean, come on. I don't care HOW good of a shooter you may or may not be, that is preposterous. The thing about it is it is entirely his decision-making that has to be adjusted. It got to the point against Washington where even when he made a three, I was less than excited because I knew he'd only fall more in love with that shot and forego any other options. Look, I like Gallo as much as the next poster on this site, but this is something that's been a problem for a while now. AND IT IS FRUSTRATING BECAUSE IT IS SO EASY TO FIX. There, I've said it and I'm done with it. Now let's all just move along.
Amare Stoudemire, PF: Not much that needs to be said here; the man has been playing extremely well against mediocre competition. Nothing to get too excited about, nothing to get too worried about. It's nice to know that his arms don't fall off when he doesn't see Steve Nash in the locker room, though, as some predicted.
Timofey Mozgov, C: Timo is quickly becoming a P&T favorite, with perhaps no greater moment this preseason than the following:
Seriously that instantly became one of my favorite blocks of all time. Dude gets after it, which is more than we can say about just about any center we've had since Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby. People keep saying he is unpolished, but a lot of what he does on the court shows him to be extraordinarily skilled for a big man; that full-court pressure on Pierce leading to a block, the ability to knock down long 2's, even an alley-oop to Felton. Obviously the "unpolished" label comes from certain aspects of the NBA game that he has to learn better, such as how to set legal picks and avoid silly fouls. Still, I don't think it is too early to declare that we got ourselves a steal with the big fella.
Bill Walker, SG: He's played a lot better in the preseason than he did in the summer league. I don't know that he'll see major minutes once Azubuike comes back, but I still root for the guy and we'll just have to wait and see.
Andy Rautins, SG: Nothing has looked good here, except that he looks like he might be a better passer than first imagined. That's probably not going to be good enough to crack the rotation much, though, particularly with Chandler developing his shot more and Walker/Mason/Gallo as our core of swingman 3 pt threats. After all, why let Rautins spin when those minutes could go to...
Landry Fields, GF: One of the most impressive draft picks I can remember, given how late he was selected and how obviously he can contribute to an NBA team right away. That last-minute shot against the Wizards was decidedly clutch, and I'm still trying to figure out what this guy's weaknesses are. That's a VERY good sign, I think.
Anthony Randolph, PF: Pretty much exactly as advertised. The Anthony Randolph face is instantly becoming a classic, and I think at this point I would literally pay $50 just to see if this guy can smile in the course of a game. Obviously that's not required, but hey, ease up on yourself, Anthony! The season is young, and so are you. Now just go out there and get after it, and let the mistakes (and successes) occur as they may.
Ronny Turiaf, C: Not that much to write about, but one thing from the last game in particular struck me. Randolph had the ball in the corner with nowhere to go really, and you could hear Turiaf screaming at him "Move the ball! Move the ball!" While it's no good for people to be screaming at Anthony (it leads to this face), you have to like that Turiaf is the kind of teammate thinks about the simple things, like, you know, ball movement. I expect that he'll contribute in a lot of similar ways over the coming year.
Roger Mason, SG: Seems a bit out of place still, struggling to really find his shot. Still seems like a better option than Rautins at this point, though.
Toney Douglas, PG / SG: You see that? Those last two letters there? While DWTDD has always been somewhat of a combo guard, seeing him get extensive minutes on the court with Felton is something that I've grown to appreciate. They really can give certain teams fits when they play together, and they can do it on both ends of the floor. TD hasn't thrived as much in the actual point guard role, but as someone else already mentioned in an earlier thread or post (it was probably Seth), TD seems to thrive when he's on the court more with the second unit than with the first. This is probably because he has practiced more with that unit up to this point, and also because there are more athletic guys in that unit who will push the pace when TD ignites the break with his perimeter defense. No matter what, you should MDDWTDD. I'll give you a second to figure that one out.