At some point soon, we'll talk more about what Summer League performances mean for the Knicks as they turn their attention toward training camp. For now, here's what I saw from a final consolation game that included some genuinely exciting individual performances.
- Jeremy Tyler's experience and moments of excellence throughout the week made him a sure thing for training camp, and today only solidified that. Against decent enough competition in Samardo Samuels and Brandon Davies, Tyler earned his 20 points with a more varied, efficient attack than anything we'd seen all week. In previous games, it seemed like he'd fall in love with one or two moves and otherwise rack up off caroms and the like. Today, he did his share of smashing in transition, but also canned short elbow jumpers out of the pick-and-roll and created looks for himself with nimble foot work and a bit of touch. Tyler wants to finish righty, and has increasingly shown an ability to find that right hand spinning from either baseline. To my eye, Tyler benefited today from starting his attacks a step or two farther from the rim. He's got the footspeed and finesse to exploit extra space, and at least today, the resulting looks were less crowded than those generated from the deep post.
Higher usage and more work away from the rim meant less (none) of the ravenous offensive rebounding we'd come to expect from Tyler in Vegas, but we know he's got that. On defense, I feel like Tyler's been communicating more and more (or I've just been sitting closer), though a lack of agreement with guards is inevitable about half the time anyway. I know Tyler was frequently out of position to contain the pick-and-roll, but it's hard to tell in this setting why that was the case.
But yeah, Tyler went from looking intermittently good all week to looking very good all day today, and I'm excited to watch him compete for a roster spot in a few months.
- Terrence Jennings kinda assumed the niche Tyler had occupied previously. Especially early in the game, he fought for position and Go-Go-Gadget-Arms'd several put-backs. Away from the rim, Jennings mostly slipped picks and tended to favor hovering at intermediate range over rolling hard to the rim (he'll fit right in with the Knicks!), but got a couple nice looks out of those sets, even if they didn't fall. He's got a righty hook, too, and backed into a couple such makes, one from each baseline. One thing Jennings hasn't really corrected this week: flailing like he saw a scorpion on every defensive play. He does not not foul.
- And on that note, I'd like to credit Eloy Vargas for consistently going straight up. He hasn't really seen the minutes or touches to show much this week, but I suspect that discipline on defense and that genuinely silky outside stroke could earn him a spot somewhere someday. I don't expect it, but I'd be happy to see the Knicks bring Vargas to camp for a longer look.
- For the second straight game, Toure' Murry didn't shine like he had been earlier in the week, but he had his moments. The play highlighted here was particularly shidiculous. Didn't even realize he'd nutmeg'd a bro before watching that replay (of which I am a co-star). I still would have liked to see Murry hit some threes or make some more incisive passes out of the pick-and-roll, but he's made his point this week: he's big, he can handle, he can run a pick-and-roll competently enough, and he at least shows the form to be a decent shooter. And though he got shook backdoor a few times, I thought today might have been Murry's best defensive showing against perhaps his toughest match-up yet: the big and eminently deadly Reggie Bullock (who is quite good). Murry jumped passing lanes a lot with mixed success, but worked through screens to tail Bullock around the arc as well. Anyway, we'll be seeing more of Murry as well, which I like.
- C.J. Leslie chilled a bit today, and it suited him. He demonstrated a more discerning eye for attacks off the dribble, turning a first step past DaJuan Summers into a big dunk and another into an and-one finish. He still drove into trouble a few times, but those occasions were fewer and further between. I gotta say, though, I've been waiting for Leslie to show something defensively, and he does get the odd steal, but I see may more blown pick-and-roll coverage and and overplaying on the perimeter than sound floor defense. It's Summer League and, as was the case with Tyler, it's hard to assign blame, but still, Leslie didn't do much to impress on that end this week. He did hit a jumper or two today, so there's that.
- I can't imagine Tony "Not That One" Mitchell making this or any team, but he is a supremely bouncy individual and finally made that clear with a couple huge finishes in transition and impressive plays to recoup loose balls or maintain pace. Mitchell's pretty unrefined, even for this setting, but quite gifted and suuuuuper fun.
Those were the guys who stood out to me today and, if you throw in Tim Hardaway Jr. (who had lighter wrist protection on today), that's pretty much the list of guys who stood out to me this week. I look forward to seeing to what extent y'all agree and will keep an eye out for news about this group's future with the actual Knicks.