The Knicks beat the Wizards in D.C. by playing at their pace and thriving in transition. It doesn't count, but it was fun and encouraging. A nice little positive thing, like Philluminati called it in last night's thread.
- I'm excited to look back on these Kristaps Porzingis performances in a few years. If he becomes as good as I think he can be -- which would mean polishing his catches, gathers, and finishes around the basket beyond recognition -- it'll be fun to rewind to the nowadays, when he was still figuring out how to use his body. His hands and eyes are coordinated just fine, but the rest of the parts do not yet engage in synchrony. Practice will help that, as will amassing enough lower body strength to fuel the whole contraption. His body is a bouquet of hockey sticks that must conform into a vector, which requires a lot of focused energy. Krispy's got that down pat around the arc (even off the bounce, as we saw), but there's a lot more technique left to learn in his game around the basket. He's gotta make sense of his own center of gravity to exploit his size and the position he finds for himself -- catch the ball without getting displaced, then keep it up high and send it net-ward fluidly. That's hard! It takes time. For now, he can get by sometimes by just having long-ass arms. See the 4:43 mark here:
I'm perilously optimistic about the kid right now, but I believe that rickety turn-and-hook will look infantile in a few years. Some of it's just nerves, anyway.
(Also in that video: A lovely big-to-big pass on the move to Robin Lopez, and some blocks and rebounds to remind you that being really fucking tall solves a lot of problems.)
(And that one-dribble pull-up. Man.)
- One more video. Watch Carmelo Anthony get buckets:
Grump if you must about the range or the level of openness. I'll be over here rubbing my belly about the quick decision-making and the crisp follow-through, none of the telltale exaggerated hand-flicking when Melo's not feeling his shot. 4 assists, too. It's not "Iso Melo" if he strikes before the defense realizes he's alone.
- (Part of the reason Melo's getting great looks is because Lopez and Porzingis know quite well when to screen and when to get out of the way.)
- Sasha, man. He selected shots better Friday than he did in that rust-shaking performance against Bauru. That's good, if somehow still not comforting. He and Jose Calderon both play the same sorta custodial defense -- I HAVE NOT THE WHEREWITHAL TO STOP THIS MAN, BUT I CAN DEFINITELY KEEP AN EYE ON HIM FOR YOU, BUT FOR REAL CAN SOMEONE HELP -- which is not so delightful to watch when they're together, which they have been. Can't be fun for Robin Lopez, either.
- Sasha's also so dirty and so chatty. He was in Bradley Beal's ear. Sasha, man.
- Calderon's quietly filling space quite well -- flashing from the weak side to open spots, and even driving (well, once) when the attention to Melo cleaves him an open lane.
- Kris Humphries straight-up snaggled the ball away from Kristaps' grasp on one rebound, but Kristaps can take solace in the knowledge that Clyde is STILL calling Hump "The Kardashian Guy."
- Talkin' about turning the body into a vector: Jerian Grant's got that. Crucial to any athletic endeavor -- to life! -- is comfort off balance. Leaning forward without tensing. It is unnatural to focus one's entire mass on a toe's surface area and launch, and some guys never quite command that skill. I'm not sure Iman Shumpert's ever really taken off in stride. Grant lacks for some basic skills -- he looks uncertain what he wants from his jump shot -- but he's so fluid on the move and off the floor. I honestly wasn't so sure about that "NBA readiness" after Summer League, but I'm thrilled so far with the passes he finds, and with his innate comfort while slicing. Grant skis through defenders and he's quite strong.
- Loved seeing Kyle O'Quinn tire of his own misses, bust out a bump fake, then put the ball on the floor and get to the left side of the rim with grace. He's already proven himself a threat pivoting around the high post, but if the jumper's not falling *and* he can't put the ball on the floor, the outlets dry up fast. If he's got passes, a shot, and a dribble, there's nothing this Kyle can't do.
- There are gonna be a lot of moving screens. Kristaps has some klutzy moments and O'Quinn and Lopez and Seraphin are all just so hyped to hit dudes.
- Lopez, as they told us, can't always make his hands put a ball in a basket. He's ALWAYS around there, though. He and Kristaps both make a serious campaign for pretty much every rebound, just by nature of their effort. Porzingis just can't always control the ball, and Lopez can't always do something with it if he does.
- Harvey Grant went on MSG to be the embarrassing dad for a minute. He told us Jerian once made his own Larry O'Brien trophy and brought it to school.
- Derrick Williams ate. Derrick Williams ate off a lot of the same cuts Jose Calderon was making -- just flashing to the free throw line from the weak side or curling up to the top of the arc. The difference, of course, is that he's bigger and more able to stalk into the paint and draw some contact. He really looked great doing that kinda stuff off the catch. He looked less great when he pulled from outside, or when he took a full beat and tried to create on his own. And on defense. Can't hate 9-9 from the line, though. That's really good.
- Ramon Sessions Rondo'd the shit outta O'Quinn -- hard back-handed ball fake, pivot, and scoop while Kyle was in the air -- and Clyde hollered "WATCH THE BIRDIE!".
- Cleanthony Early finished a really lovely Euro Step but did it WITH HIS MOUTHGUARD DANGLING OUT OF HIS MOUTH A MERE TWO DAYS AFTER ORAL SURGERY AND I'M STILL FREAKING OUT ABOUT THIS I DON'T WANT YOU TO GET DRY SOCKETS, CLE.
- If Humphries were *hitting* threes, he'd have killed Kristaps. He was merely taking them, but they were open. Porzingis took Gortat for a little while, too. It was uneventful!
- The beauty of Clyde owning a popular midtown restaurant is hearing him say "Comic Con" and "bar mitzvah" in the same sentence. The restaurant game's introducing him to all kinds of stuff.
- Jorts fouled out in 12 minutes for Washington. Still love u.
- Today's unedited line from my notes:
GRANT SLICE UP MIDLE LAYIN LEFTY DOUBLE PUMP JESUS MFFMA;SDKLFLK
- I think we'll see Thanasis Antetokounmpo et al get minutes at the end of preseason, when Derek Fisher lets the higher rotation guys rest a bit.
Have a lovely day.