There’s still time to apologize if you booed this man on draft night. Kevin Knox lived above the rim and displayed his talent in transition by scoring 22 points and leading the Knicks over the Trae Young-led Hawks 91-89. All eyes were on this game as it was not only the Summer League debut for these new Knicks, but also coach David Fizdale’s first chance to evaluate his young charges. As expected, they were far from perfect, but this squad has the athleticism and energy we’ve lacked for years.
WE HAVE A STUD!: For the Knicks’ very first basket, Kevin Knox went coast to coast for a thunderous dunk. It would be a recurring theme throughout the night as our prize rookie had an extra gear Atlanta couldn’t match.
His shooting was a struggle (1/7 from three-point range), but he managed to go 8/20 and most importantly, showed he can score in multiple ways when the jumper isn’t falling. Speaking of said jumper, his form is smooth so there’s no doubt he can become a formidable three-point shooter.
WE HAVE ANOTHER PAINT DEFENDER: With Kanter back and KP still out, I’ve had bad visions of open layups and constant PNR abuse. Those fears have been relieved by our other rookie in Mitchell Robinson. The 7’footer has freakish length which he used to great effect in the passing lanes and harassing penetrators. He notched a game-high four blocks, including a beautiful swat on a point-blank dunk.
The glaring problem with Mitchell’s game today is not even his fault — his teammates constantly missed him cutting to the basket for easy dunks. Nonetheless, he finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds (four offensive).
THE NEW JR?: Allonzo Trier might just be our new JR Smith and I mean that with all the good and bad it entails. Trier is a chucker and we’ll have nights where we want to strangle him. He was one of the guys not looking for Mitchell when the big man cut to the rim. Trier did prove valuable in the fourth with a few timely jumpers and icing the game at the free throw line.
Trier was only 5/12 from the field, but he ended up having a well-rounded game to the tune of 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
SAME OLD FRANK?: The highlight videos we’ve seen over the last few weeks had us hopeful Frank Ntilikina (5 points, 5 assists, 2 steals) would level up this year. His first quarter was solid — we saw him giving Trae Young fits in the backcourt and forcing late shot-clock heaves.
Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. We saw the same problems from last year — picking up his dribble too early, indecisive about his shot and not running the offense smoothly (unexpected passes leading to turnovers).
If you’re holding out hope, you’ll say this was just one game and he’ll get better with Fizdale in his ear. On the glass half empty side, you’ll say Frank was out there struggling against lower competition.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It finally feels like we have a “modern” team! Our squad is filled with young, athletic guys with length to guard any position. How about Troy Williams being an energy spark all night (17 points)? He really kept us alive when the offense was struggling. It was nice to see Damyean Dotson in the huddle pushing everyone to step it up defensively. We have some work to do on that end, particularly when guarding the perimeter. Yes, there will be growing pains. But the Knicks finally have a clear vision for the future and aren’t chasing free agent pipe dreams.
I’m already psyched about tomorrow night’s game against Utah.