The Knicks earned their first preseason and lone preseason victory against a Celtics team that sat all of its starters last Monday. Last night, the Knicks returned the favor by sitting Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and RJ Barrett in their penultimate preseason game. New York did trot out two of their usual starters, Mitchell Robinson, and Quentin Grimes, but it wasn’t enough as Boston’s starters got off to a hot start en route to a 41-point first quarter. Grimes, Deuce McBride, Donte DiVincenzo, and Isaiah Hartenstein all had solid games, but they ultimately came up short in the end.
New York will look to bounce back from their 123-110 loss tonight as they take on Washington (2-0). The Wizards, who have been mostly irrelevant over the last few years, finally pulled the trigger on trading away former All-Star Bradley Beal and have gone into a rebuild. Hence, the franchise still finds itself in a very odd position. Washington traded for Jordan Poole, who we’ve seen show glimpses of stardom, and should be a fun watch this season. But Poole doesn’t scream guaranteed star the way that a lot of rebuilding franchises have. The 24-year-old guard should be in line to put up some nice numbers this season, but he’s no Trae Young, Zion Williamson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyrese Halliburton, Ja Morant, Luka Doncic, etc. And while they do have some draft picks coming up, they pale in comparison to the number of picks that teams like the Thunder, Jazz, Nets, and even Knicks have.
And outside of Poole, the Wizards don’t really have too much. The team rosters veterans like Tyus Jones, Daniel Gafford, Kyle Kuzma, Mike Muscala, and Knicks legends Taj Gibson and Danilo Gallinari, and hopes to develop and build off of players like Bilal Coulibaly, Johnny Davis, Deni Avdija, and Patrick Baldwin. But overall, if you looked at this roster and asked yourself who you could see this team making a run with down the line, say four or five years, Poole, Kuzma, Jones, and potentially Coulibaly, are likely the only guys that could play a major role on a contending team. Now, obviously, things can change. Maybe Avidja and Davis take off and prove a lot of people wrong, and maybe the front office has a few years of really successful drafts. But right now, as they are currently constructed, the Wizards figure to be a fun team to watch that likely won’t win many games.
With the bulk of the starters sitting out last night’s game and tonight’s game being the Knicks’ last preseason game before the regular season, I’d bet on the whole startling lineup being out there tonight and playing a good chunk of minutes. Brunson, Grimes, Barrett, Randle, and Robinson, don’t necessarily need too much time to gel as they’ve shared the floor for some time now but it’s always good to some extra reps in and get their cardio right heading into the season.
Washington will likely stick with the same starting five of Jones, Jordan Poole, Coulibaly, Kuzma, and Gafford that took the court last Thursday against the Hornets. This is a startling lineup that’ll have a lot of its shots taken by the duo of Poole and Kuzma, and while they don’t necessarily strike fear into anyone, they are two players who can catch fire relatively quickly. If Washington can’t get those two going though, this team may struggle to score on many nights. Gafford can’t generate his own shots, Coulibaly is still very raw, and while Jones is a capable and usually efficient scorer, he’s a pass-first point guard.
The Knicks fans have seen firsthand just how deadly Kuzma can be, unfortunately, so let’s hope they can contain him and Poole. And if they do, New York should have an easy time stopping the rest of the Wizards offense. That is, as long as they don’t let Kispert and Muscala, two guys not afraid of letting it fly from deep, get on a roll off the bench. New York, with its full starting lineup back and playing bigger minutes, should be able to beat the new-look rebuilding Wizards. Knicks take this 110-100.
Who: New York Knicks vs. Washington Wizards
When: 7:30 pm EST, Wednesday, Oct. 18
Where: Madison Square Garden, NYC
Watch: MSG TV, NBA TV