My favorite basketball team is the New York-Las Vegas SummerKnicks. Posting and Toasting is a blog about the New York-Las Vegas SummerKnicks. Seriously, we quickly got the vibe that the Knicks' Vegas entrant would play ball this year, and it's now evident-- especially in person-- that these bros really enjoy each other's company *and* take pleasure in triangulatin' on offense. The Knicks throttled the Patrick Ewing-coached Hornets today with some wonderful passing and cutting and a couple sharp bursts of transition play. It was honestly some of the most organized, spirited Summer League play I've ever seen. A few quick notes:
- I think these guys love running the basic triangle sets, bigs in particular. Every one of the big dudes trucked up the floor knowing he'd get a chance to post up immediately, and the others-- from bigs on down to Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Tim Hardaway Jr.-- took turns operating from the weak side and creating out the two-man game. Jeremy Tyler surveyed the floor and made reads in a way we never saw in Summer League last year, and always found himself in position to can that elbow jumper after checking down his cutter. Jordan Henriquez got a little over-pass-y at times in that same position, which is fine. The frontcourt played with a universal ethic of get-the-fuck-up-the-floor-and-create.
- And just as the bigs knew energy would earn them chances to create, the littles knew their cuts wouldn't go unnoticed. Shane Larkin got a chunk of his 14 points by running varied routes around Tyler or Henriquez in the high post, just blazing past any defender he caught snoozing. His littleness and preference to rush floaters instead of go up strong got him swatted once or twice, but the looks were definitely there, and 6-7 inside the arc is a nice line (0-3 from downtown).
- Larkin mostly defends the ball, which creates both havoc and open shots.
- Langston Galloway was lazy enough on those weak-side cuts and quiet enough with the ball that I typed "Langston Galloway sucks" in my notes, then deleted it because I thought it was mean even though no one would see it but me, unless I incorporated it into a later note about how Langston Galloway actually had a great game. So, yeah, Galloway proceeded to fight over screens and move his feet, forcing a travel and an ugly shot or two. Then the Knicks leaned heavily on Tyler's weak-side creation and Galloway found a couple hand-off jumpers and several consecutive cutting finishes in traffic, each more acrobatic than the previous one. The most hyped the crowd and Knicks' bench got-- and they got hYpEd-- was during that second-quarter stretch.
- Thanasis Antetokounmpo likes to finish wide with his left hand instead of reaching all the way to rim. He doesn't really have the touch to do that, but he did show the bounce to get after his own miss and the reach to to poke any offensive rebound away from a bigger, better-positioned player. And he was just so aggressive on defense (7 fouls, 3 steals, one huge block in the final seconds). I'm inclined to say he needs to conserve his energy and pick his spots a little better, but I'm not sure that's possible. Antetokounmpo got to his spots in the triangle (often, like Tyler, that weak-side high post), but didn't take as many passing risks as others.
- Hardaway only chucked a little. He actually got excessively generous in transition on one wide-open fast break (Galloway had all the good vibes and Tim just wanted to preserve them). He finished a few of his own in transition, and shot very well on hand-offs, kick-outs, and trailing catches. Way less random pulling out of the flow of the offense.
- Tyler seriously just stiff-arms people sometimes. He got called for 7 fouls, but committed easily 941. That aggressiveness bought him 8 rebounds!
- Very sad I didn't see this in person:
"They ask me where my ID is, I do this!" - Walt Clyde Frazier showing off his ringzzz pic.twitter.com/ew1aW7qptR— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) July 14, 2014
- Derek Fisher likes to stand with his elbow pressed against his chest and his hand cupping his chin, like he's taking a little nap standing on the sideline. That's just efficiency.
- Knicks people I noticed in attendance: Phil Jackson, Allan Houston, Steve Mills, Misho Ostarcevic (the front office is here, basically) Kenyon Martin, and uh... Chris Smith, if that counts. I think new assistant Brian Keefe was on the bench, too, along with the rest of the new hires.
- Neither Cole Aldrich ("strained left calf") nor Cleanthony Early ("strained left ankle") played. They were both up and walking around, and Early was actually in uniform and shooting a bit. They're fine. Cole's done for summer league.
That's it! The Knicks are off tomorrow, then the PLAYOFFS start. And guys...the Knicks might be a contender this year.