In their first day of Vegas competition, the Knicks' Summer League squad fell behind early, stormed back into contention, but couldn't quite come back against Ty Lawson and the Nuggets. Sound familiar? Doesn't matter. Summer League's about the players, and I've got ample notes to share on most of the SummerKnicks that spun. Let us begin:
Toney Douglas put up a hell of a stat line: 27 points (8-20), 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals in 35 minutes. Toney did most of his offensive work from downtown (5-11) or in the open court, attacking the rim for a finish or a drawn foul on several occasions. Toney looked for his outside shot both off the bounce and in catch-and-release situations late in the clock, and stepped confidently into threes throughout the afternoon. Douglas left something to be desired on the pick-and-roll, occasionally missing a rolling big man or trying to wedge a pass through a closed window. At the same time, though, guys like Jerome Jordan and Leo Lyons don't have the same grasp of timing and space as, say, Amar'e Stoudemire, so Douglas didn't always have options. In any event, the majority of those 5 dimes came on the drive-and-kick.
Defensively, Douglas had plenty of trouble staying in front of Ty Lawson. Granted, sticking Lawson is like trying to catch a greased-up mouse. The second-year guard's combination of quickness and power makes him tough for anybody to cover, but Toney could've done himself a favor by granting Lawson a step in the halfcourt set. Toney's defensive instinct is to pick up his man at halfcourt, but with Lawson's first step, there's a point at which it makes sense to let him shoot from outside. To their credit, Douglas and the Knicks did some work to dissuade Lawson later on by forcing him to his left and bringing help early. All told, Toney Douglas' offense looked sharp at a variety of paces, and he facilitated well by driving and finding shooters. The set-up passes off of screens might come with a little more time running alongside these particular big men. Douglas was outspoken on the court, and it seems like he's making an effort to hone his pick-and-roll connections.
Andy Rautins can and will shoot. Always. Rautins pulled off the catch, off the bounce, and with multiple hands in his face. I'm pretty sure that if you toss Andy a basketball, he'll instinctively turn and heave it at the nearest basket, even if that's miles away. The good news is that Rautins has a crazysexycool stroke from outside and a quick enough release that he only needs a sliver of daylight to connect. Driving didn't even cross Rautins' mind, but he did look to pass when Douglas moved off the ball and also showed pretty decent defensive footwork.
Also, everybody here agrees that, particularly in profile, Rautins is a dead-ringer for J.E. Skeets. It's uncanny.
We're gonna love Landry Fields. Landry didn't try to create too much (save for one gorgeous turn-and-fade baseline J), but shot an efficient 6-8 on cuts, broken plays, and putbacks. He puts his otherworldly hops to great use, streaking to the rim to catch passes and clean up misses with abandon. That hangtime bought him a few gorgeous double-clutch finishes and trips to the line as well. Fields isn't the quickest guy on the floor, and Dan D'Antoni told me afterward that he wanted Fields to be more active on defense. Fields looked sharp jumping passing lanes, but struggled a bit moving laterally and staying in front of quicker players. Landry's position as a Knick (2, 3, or even 4), will likely be contingent on match-ups.
An almost unrecognizably slender Bill Walker took a few too many out-of-rhythm threes (1-6), but did look to put the ball on the floor more later on. Bill the Bully never really got into the flow of the game because of a heap of foul calls, many of which stemmed from silly loose-ball collisions
(and one of which came after he slam-dunked Coby Karl's head onto the hardwood Just kidding, Marcus Landry was the culprit.). Hopefully, we'll see a sharper, more focused Walker in the games to come. He needs to be aggressive, but also needs to pick his spots (i.e. Driving and drawing contact= Good aggressive. Goosing opposing rebounders= Bad aggressive.)
Jerome Jordan is very big and very active, but the finer things like timing and coordination don't appear to be quite there. We knew this. The good news is that the giant Jamaican appears to be a willing listener, and he covers ground pretty ably for his size. Jordan might prove to be a gem with some NBA coaching. He showed a pretty nice midrange game during warm-ups but the Jerome Jordan Jumper (Triple-J special) didn't see the light of day during the game.
Leo Lyons has a delightfully feline name, but more of a sphyrnid look, if you ask me. He's very aggressive, but doesn't appear that skilled at the moment. To be honest, I took almost no notes on Lyons. All I wrote was "Cool name, weird head."
Carlos Powell got the start, but I didn't see him do much of note except for a bunch of fouls.
Patrick Ewing Jr., Ryan Wittman, and Charles Garcia (among others) did not play. Since several of you were clamoring for Garcia, I asked Dan-D'An about Garcia after the game, and he was noncommittal, nothing that he's "got 18 guys" to manage, and that certain players needed extended looks. It remains to be seen whether Garcia (and other DNPs) factor into these plans.
- I'm going to try and get a picture of this, but a guy sitting courtside is wearing a Memphis Grizzlies Jake Tsakilidis jersey. I assure you that he is neither Greek, nor Jake Tsakilidis himself. I need to get to the bottom of this.
- David Thorpe hunts-and-pecks. Don't tell him I told you that.
- The Nuggets were without Brian Butch, who suffered a grisly knee injury on Saturday. It sounds as if Butch is headed home, which is a shame for the Nuggets. He looked pretty solid before going down.
- Mike D'Antoni wouldn't comment on Timofey Mozgov because the deal isn't done yet, but he did sound very enthusiastic about Ronny Turiaf. D'Antoni said he sees Turiaf as a clear-cut five, if you're wondering.
The Knicks play at the same time tomorrow, and it'll be the same drill here at P&T. Now that I've got a sense for the process, I'll be able to have some more words with the players and, if we're lucky, the namesake himself.