Hey friends, how are y'all enjoying the weekend?
With the Knicks' Summer League schedule drawn to a close, the fellas would like to take a moment to share their thoughts on certain New York prospects. Won't you let us share?
Matt Miranda: I kinda wish Kristaps Porzingis was from Turkey instead of Latvia. That way I could call him "Turkish Delight." The pleasantest surprise in watching Porzingis was pretty much every part of his game that wasn't highlighted before he was drafted - the fluid footwork; the height and length eating up space on the defensive end, especially in the paint; the basketball IQ, e.g. deciding to front Jahlil Okafor on his own after being bullied by him for a half. I still don't think he'll earn a starting spot anytime soon, nor am I sure it's in anyone's best interest for that to happen yet. But I do think he can contribute more in year one than I did two weeks ago. His biggest needs are gaining weight and playing with better guards than he did in Las Vegas. Both will come.
Jonathan Schulman: As much as I want to love Cleanthony Early, the kid needs some heavy chiseling still. At 24 years young, he just doesn't seem to be growing into his spot very naturally. He's been a late bloomer before and I'm holding out hope that the NBA journey is not dissimilar. Cle still seems mechanical making reads, and part of that must be that he is a focal point for the team in Summer League. Early still tries to be a little cutesy and finesse-happy. Here's to hoping the combination of Arron Afflalo and Carmelo Anthony is a perfect mentor for Cle, and he can jump up a level soon. Getting a nice swath of his talents to NBA average would work wonders.
Seth: Maurice Ndour should come to camp. With Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson back, the Knicks aren't quite looking for a big-ish dude who hits midrange jumpers and/or battles around the basket, but Ndour stood out too much not to get rewarded. Toss him among NBA players and see if he thrives. Ndour is old enough that his game at this point is more likely to be sanded than sculpted, but that game already includes the touch and the court sense to fit in structured sets. If Ndour finds his shot, finds his teammates, and keeps wrasslin' for loose balls in exhibition games, he might soon prove to be an NBA player.
Christian Baber: Thanasis Antetokoumpo clearly needs to develop his perimeter skills to see playing time in the NBA. Considering the Knicks' constant dearth of willing defenders there was some hope that he'd be able to fill some minutes as a reserve defensive wing this season. Antetokoumpo finished Las Vegas Summer League a -38 despite the Knicks winning four out of the five games they played. Outside of the final win against Milwaukee, he appeared to be a complete liability on offense and wasn't nearly a good enough defender to mitigate that. There are some wing players who can succeed in the right offensive system despite serious offensive limitations (Ronnie Brewer in Jerry Sloan's flex offense comes to mind). Thanasis doesn't balance the floor enough right now to make that likely, but I wouldn't hate seeing him at the end of the bench celebrating and developing with the main roster.
Matt RW: I know Summer League doesn't mean much, but Jerian Grant may already be a pretty good NBA point guard. His court vision/passing is "holy shit" amazing at times, and man, does he know how to get to the basket or what? He probably shouldn't start on opening night, but if he plays like he did over this past week, I'd be pretty disappointed if he isn't in the lineup by the end of the year. I'm especially excited to see what he can do when Carmelo Anthony, rather than a random summer dude, is on the other end of one of those passes. There's no denying he has to work on his shot and his decision-making in half-court sets, but 1. he legitimately got better at that stuff with each passing Summer League game, and 2. the Knicks got him for freaking Tim Hardaway, Jr. If you never forget No. 2, Jerian Grant can't possibly disappoint.
Joe: Ricky Ledo. Ricky, Ricky, Ricky Ledo. I mean, I get the fact that this kid could be an impact player in the NBA with his size and ability to get to the basket. But this was his third trip to the Summer League, and he shot woefully (36.7 FG%, 27.3 3P%) and piled up more turnovers than assists. Like Thanasis, he is a rare physical talent who took an unconventional route to get here and really needs to work on his basketball IQ. Thanasis gives you hustle and length on defense; Ledo constantly attacks defenses off the dribble, usually ignores his teammates and occasionally makes a pretty play at the rim. Is that really worth the poor shooting and turnovers, particularly when the Knicks are trying to renew their commitment to team ball?