The Knicks got hooped and duped in their Summer League playoff battle against the Celtics this afternoon. In the game thread, King Henry the 2nd wondered why the young ‘Bockers were biting on all the ball fakes. Later on, youth may have emerged in your own fandom if you got excited whilst the comeback tide was crashing in. Why fall for the fakes? Are we in too deep?
No Frank Ntilikina again for this contest but we were treated to Luke Kornet’s first court appearance. Kornet, who looked like a vicious street punk sitting on the bench in the first game of the summer, started along with the summer-regulars Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson. Perhaps shifting everyone down a spot wasn’t what the doctor ordered. I would have liked to see some Tyrius Walker or Michael Gbinije to keep Knox at the power forward. No one, assuredly cares what I would have liked, and thank you for nodding along.
To the notes cave!
- The star of the show was Mitchell Robinson. No question about it. 17 points on 10 shots, 12 rebounds (7 offensive), 3 steals and 6 blocks with one measly foul over 27 minutes. Still a ways to go before Mitchell can do that type of stuff to NBA talent but this return to game action has been nothing short of a revelation.
- Robinson finally seemed to keep his wind through the game. Learning the pace and what’s expected of him probably worked wonders. His jittery game still drops him in funny places with happy feet. Yet he is so quick and bouncy and ferocious that he can shut down 20 feet of space in the blink of an eye. Have you ever seen someone leap out to block three point attempts like this kid?!
- Speaking of which, late in the game, Robinson leapt out to block a Guerschon Yabusele corner three. Then sprung further out to block a three at the top of the key, but a wary Celtic ball faked as Mitchell slipped past him. But taking Summer League to project- here we got a great look at how he used his size to both close out over the top of the shooter and his bounciness allowed him to sweep around the outside of the other guy’s body. I’m sure James Harden will still figure out the exact angle to flail and get three free throws, but that effortless lift is a smooch from a chef.
- This same bounce also allows him to be a WMD near the rim. His load up and re-load for the second jump is so quick, and he is so long, that the ball is his and only his. Most defenders are being dunked on by the time they realized they missed a block out.
- Fran Fraschilla desperately wanted to nail his comparison of Mitchell Robinson being somewhere between Marcus Camby, Hassan Whiteside, Anthony Davis, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Orlando Shaq, Cleveland Shaq, Lakers Shaq, TNT Shaq, David Robinson and JaVale McGee. Whatever, man.
- Kevin Knox continues to drive left only to make a slow turn underneath and away from defenders as he tries to finish with his right hand. It makes him scrunch up, shift his weight like a rusted security camera, and abruptly blast off an awkward finesse-less tangle of a shot. If he insists on stopping his momentum and getting it back to his right hand, he’ll need to get much more elevation to find the window for a clean look. As he develops touch with his left hand and grows into his frame, he should just start trucking fools on his way up and go through and over them with gusto. He is just barely old enough to vote.
- Otherwise Knox has a penchant for making things look so neat and tidy! He’s such a good young man. His catch-and-shoot jumper wavers a little bit and his shot selection can be underwhelming. The further he is from Summer League the more that stuff will tighten up. His field goal percentage has been rather unkempt and today was no exception. Semi Ojeleye (who was playing meaningful playoff minutes not too long ago) really looked like Mr. T manhandling Murdock out there. That year of experience (not to mention his three years of college ball) clearly makes a gigantic difference.
- That stuff we sorta knew. Something we weren’t as keyed in on was Knox creativity and certainty in the post. He looked more than comfortable with his back to the basket. He kept his head up surveying the floor and never let the pressure get the best of him. He had one pass to Troy Williams that caught the entire Celtics defense off guard. Williams took it right down the gut for the and-1. If Knox can cause trouble on the block, the Knicks suddenly have a scary set of pick and roll guys that can play either end of the action and brutalize miscues or mismatches accordingly.
- Safe to say this was Allonzo Trier’s best summer showing. Trier finally found the right speed to connect with Robinson and threw him a nice connection flight for an alley-oop in the early going. He tried to be a little more of a gracious host with the ball in his hands and it helped a bit. His lead defense backed up by Robinson and co. not really always having the best positioning granted the Celtics pretty much whatever they wanted. Nevertheless Trier finally got the ball popping around and he found much better shots of his own as a result.
- Trier has a good amount of shimmy and can get a well balanced shot up in a pinch when you need it. Will be interesting to watch his progress in the G-League. Be that as it may, Trier sorta strikes me as the bad connotation of “position-less”.
- One Trier lob to Mitch Rob was awkwardly thrown into space and Robinson couldn’t snag it. It’s always the passer’s fault but Robinson needs to do a better job carving out the space. Had he done the initial work, he could have let the ball just fall to him, then catch and elevate.
- Luke Kornet got the start and just shuffled around firing off a round every now and then. Until — completely out of nowhere — this thug styled on the Celtics with a reverse slam-a-jam. He put a ton of salt and mayo on this wet puppy.
- Later, Luke came up limping on a rebound only to step into a three on the other end after he wobbled down the court.
- Damyean Dotson, man. Has not had a good Summer League. Don’t worry pal, we’ll always have Orlando. Or is Summer League just not to be taken seriously!? How can we know?! FRUSTRATION!
Well that was it essentially. The Knicks will have a consolation game but I just cannot be consoled. Summer League is almost over. Summer has a ways to go.