Knicks basketball is finally back after a four-month hiatus. While it isn’t a regular season game, it will be nice to see our team back in action. The Knicks are now in a fairly unfamiliar territory as they come into the season with more expectations than they have had in a very long time.
Winning these preseason games are not exactly the ultimate goal. Instead, the team will most likely prioritize making sure their players are fresh and ready to go for the regular season and finding out who out of the non-starters are going to be the ones to play a big role for this team going forward.
The Knicks have not officially listed its starters and it is always hard to gauge these kinds of things during the preseason, especially when it is the 1st game. Some teams, especially the younger ones with more to prove and improve on, start their projected starters while contending teams like the Lakers and Nets often sit their star players. For now, we’ll assume that the Knicks do go ahead and give their starters (minus the center position) the green light even if they do end up playing very limited minutes.
Mitchell Robinson is officially listed as out as he has yet to participate in a practice with the team, which is a bit of concern but the report is that the team is just being super cautious with the young big man. Nerlens Noel (sore left knee) is also listed as questionable and while Thibodeau likes to play his guys big minutes, Noel should not be playing in a meaningless game if he has anything bugging him. Rookie Jericho Sims or vet Taj will most likely get the start.
Keys & Predictions
Both teams will pull its starters in the first half and the actual result of the game will most likely come down to the role players and young players for both teams. For the Pacers, look for Chris Duarte, their 1st round pick, to get a lot of minutes as they continue to get him acclimated to the NBA game.
On the Knicks side, look for the Summer League studs, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin to lead the team in minutes. Thibodeau may be more inclined to play his starters more than some of the other coaches around the league but the two Knicks sophomores should still get a lot of minutes. Rookies Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and Jericho Sims should also get some decent minutes as they try to use this opportunity to prove to coach what they are capable of. Outside of the neophytes, we may also see fringe rotation players like Dwayne Bacon, Kevin Knox and Wayne Selden try to make their case to get minutes as well.
Game is at 7:30.
Prediction: Everyone has fun
It would be cool to see the starting lineup in action with the new backcourt finally in play, even if they don’t play many minutes. And if they don’t play at all, I’m still not mad. Hopefully we see a lot of Obi Toppin minutes and a lot of Obi Toppin shots. Also, as mentioned above, with Robinson out and Noel questionable, I hope to see Toppin finally gets minutes as the 5, playing next to Randle. Toppin was used as a corner 3-point shooter for most of last year and while I hope to see that part of his game continue to improve, getting Toppin rolling to the rim and utilizing his elite athleticism will help him be a much more productive player. I’m all for giving Toppin more looks on offense and the more we can see what he is and isn’t and the more we can improve his confidence, the better the team should be going forward. Other than that, maybe Kevin Knox will finally play a little bit? Oh and please stay healthy, that’s more important than everything else to be honest.