The Knicks have fallen to a 1-2 record so far in the Las Vegas summer league after a 84-71 blowout by the Charlotte Bobcats. Throughout the game the Knicks could not get into a flow on either end of the court and with the shooting eluding them throughout the game, they had to resort to physical defense to contain the Bobcats, which led to the Bobcats going to the charity stripe almost every trip down the court.
Lets talk about the biggest positive of the game first. C.J Leslie finally showed up the party after a string of two bad performances. Leslie wins the MVP for the Knicks today after putting up 15 points (6-14), 5 rebounds, and 1 steal. Leslie finally showed the aggressiveness on the glass we were all waiting for him to show and seemed to be reading the game quite well as he looked to use his mismatch against Cody Zeller to his advantage. Leslie looked sharp on both ends of the court and will now look to carry it into the next two games (minimum) in the round robin stage of the Las Vegas Summer League.
No one really looked sharp today but some players that were particularly bad were Jeremy Tyler, Eloy Vargas, and Chris Smith (once again).
After having a great first two games with the Knicks in this years edition of the Las Vegas summer league, Tyler seemed completely out of the game wether it was because of the possible ankle injury he suffered or some other distraction. It may have possibly not been his day too. But we can’t speculate, the point is that if he wants to make the final Knicks roster he will have to be much more consistent than what he showed today. Tyler put up 3 points (1-6), and 2 rebounds. That summed up his day, he didn’t impact the game at all and that is the main reason for his -2 PER.
Vargas didn’t have a particularly better day on the court either as he too had a negative PER (-3) and showed lack of focus on both ends of the floor consistently throughout the game. As a matter of fact it was the only thing he could do consistently today as he finished with 2 points (1-7), 7 boards, 1 assist, and 2 blocks. Those stats show that he had a good game defensively but in reality in the 20 minutes he was on the court, he could have had a chance to grab 11+ rebounds and 4+ blocks but was merely distracted by trying to guard other players and leaving holes on the defensive end.
I have given up on Chris Smith after his third straight terrible performance. He has seen his minutes drop since the first game of the Summer League and rightfully so as he has showed no ability to shoot the ball, which is the only real thing he is known for. He put up 5 points (1-6), and 2 assists. He just couldn’t get anything started and I don’t see why the Knicks coaching staff don’t opt to put Toure Murray at the one for the rest of the summer. Smith finished with a -7 PER and in all honesty, the way he looked out there he deserved a -10 or worse for what he showed today. He does not have a chance of making the Knicks roster next season, not even if his big brother is one of the best players on the team.
So far it seems that I have made the whole team besides C.J Leslie seem bad but there were two other players who stood out besides Leslie in Toure Murray and Terrence Jennings.
Toure Murray has been the most consistent player on this Knicks Las Vegas Summer League team and maintained those honers once again as he put up 8 points (3-7), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals. Murray was always on his man and trying to force errors to get some steals and was the only player really committed on the defensive end of things with the rest of the team, besides himself, Jennings, and Leslie putting in lackluster performances on the defensive end of the game. Murray’s stats don’t tell the whole story as he was looking for more open looks to drive and play the ball out to open men and really took advantage of his speed getting to the rim more than most of the guards today. The Knicks should really give this kid a deeper look as he has proved to be a breakout player for the orange and blue and could be in contention for the role of third string PG on the Knicks depth chart come next season.
Terrence Jennings is another one of those players that has a chance of making the roster after yet another great performance. Jennings put up 10 points (5-9), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block and looked ever present on the defensive end for each minutes of the 20 he played today. Jennings is a high energy player with a lot of athleticism and could provide a huge spark against undersized SF’s if the Knicks were to take a deeper look at him and consider putting him at the three. Jennings is a real steal and over the next two games (minimum) of the Knicks Las Vegas Summer League we should be excited to be seeing more from him in hopefully, a more meaningful role with an increase in minutes.
The Knicks have an off day tomorrow and will be back in action on either Wednesday or Thursday for the start of the round robin stage of the Las Vegas Summer League.