By Max Marcilla
As the Knicks wrapped up their 2013 Summer League campaign with a 2-3 record, Max from KnickSwag will give you a breakdown on the individual performances.
Jeremy Tyler… A
Tyler was the only Knick that played 5 excellent games, and therefore has already been invited to training camp. Tyler led the Knicks in scoring with 13 PPG and was 3rd in rebounding with 6.4 a game. What separated him from other big men on the roster is how he scored. He made it look easy, making hook shots, layups, extending his range with long jumpers, and even a ridiculous dunk in the final game of the Summer League. Why Tyler didn’t get an A+ is simply because of his propensity to foul. While he is a solid defender, as he showed with multiple rejections over the course of the 5 games, he did have a few instances when he made foolish fouls. This could be an easy fix. However, as it is just a sign of a low basketball IQ, which with experience and teachings from fellow Knick big men like Tyson Chandler, can be improved.
Toure Murry… A-
Toure Murry came in with high expectations after being a member of the D-League championship team last season, as he shined in the Finals with a triple-double in game one. However, no one was prepared for Murry’s impact in the Summer League. An immediate standout, Murry impressed everyone in the gym with his baseline-to-baseline defense, quick hands and feet, and his ability to push the Knicks into transition. He, along with Tyler, has already received an invitation to training camp, and it was well deserved. While Murry is already an outstanding defender, he does have one weakness, and that is shooting. However, that weakness is overshadowed by his strengths on defense, as well as in transition.
Tim Hardaway Jr… B+
Hardaway Jr. only played a game and a half, as he was victim to a wrist injury (not serious) but it sidelined him for the majority of the Vegas experience. Nonetheless, in the time he did play he was impressive. The first round draft pick of the NY Knicks scored 20 points in his limited action, playing very well. His weakness was (like fellow Knick shooting guard J.R. Smith) his shot selection. But, as Smith showed last year, that can be turned around with hard work and coaching.
C.J. Leslie… B
Leslie was the “second round draft pick” the Knicks never had, as he was not drafted and scooped up very quickly by NY. While he had his struggles, he showed signs of true potential. The North Carolina State star was very good towards the end of the Summer League, becoming a solid all-around player. Leslie averaged 9 PPG and 3 RPG, playing well overall. But, he did struggle at times shooting, and throughout the entire Summer League season he struggled with ball handling. Leslie is definitely raw, but he did show a lot of upside over the 5 games and something to keep an eye on this year.
Terrence Jennings… B
If it weren’t for Tyler dominating the Summer League, Jennings would’ve gotten consideration for a roster spot, and while he should be considered, it is a lot less likely now. Jennings came in as a “known” defensive presence, but his offensive skills were in question. But, as the games progressed, Jennings started to show he was comfortable on offense, dropping in put-backs and easy hook shots. However, his jumper is less than desirable. He averaged 10 PPG and 7 RPG, and had 5 blocks over his 5 games played. While he did play very well, Tyler stole the show, leaving Jennings in the dust. Jennings may not have a spot on this Knicks team, but I could see him joining another team this year or next, as he is only 24 years old.
Eloy Vargas… C
Vargas disappointed me this summer league. He had an opportunity with the Knicks since they are in need of a back-up center that could rebound, score, and most importantly play defense, but Vargas never showed that. At 6’11” Vargas only averaged 6 PPG and 4 RPG, while other big men, such as Jeremy Tyler and Terrence Jennings, nearly doubled his rebounding totals. That, along with his struggle shooting and scoring the basketball is going to prevent him from making the Knicks this season.
J’Covan Brown… C
Brown had an up-and-down Summer League, but not nearly good enough to make the cut. Brown was able to control the point guard position for some good minutes, but wasn’t able to produce the way the Knicks wanted him to. Brown shot a woeful 32% over the 5 game season, and only averaged 1.6 APG, a number far too low for a point guard. Even Toure Murry, a converted shooting guard had more assists than that.
Justin Brownlee… C-
In his 2nd opportunity for the Summer League Knicks, Brownlee didn’t make the cut. Brownlee averaged 3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, and only recorded 3 assists in the 5 games he played in. Brownlee even got his opportunity in the game against the Charlotte Bobcats, as he was promoted to a starter, but after shooting 2-6 and struggling, Brownlee was quickly sent back to the bench where he continued to be a non-factor.
Jerome Jordan… D
The only reason Jordan “passed” this test is because he put up decent numbers, 8 PPG and 8 RPG as a Knick. However, he showed multiple times ineffectiveness on defense, a quality that is inexcusable from a 7 foot center. Jordan was fooled over and over by the pick and roll and failed to pick up any defensive concepts as the games went along. Jordan played 4 games with the Knicks, and had to work too hard to score his points. As a Knick, he only had one game where he shot 50%, and the rest were terrible: 4-9, 4-13, and 2-6. For a jump shooter that is just coming into the NBA, that’s poor, but acceptable, but for a center that was picked in the second round, that has NBA experience, it’s inexcusable.
Chris Smith… D
Let’s be honest Knick fans. We are hard on J.R.’s younger brother. We expect him to be the next J.R, and score 18 PPG, and win the sixth man of the year. Whether we realize it or not, he has high expectation that we, the fans, give Chris. But regardless of whose brother he is, he really was terrible. Maybe the Knick fans gave him a worse rep then he deserves, but he was bad. Chris, like J.R, is an erratic shooter, but couldn’t get his shots to fall. Smith put up dreadful numbers, averaging 8 shot attempts a game, but only averaging 2 makes, and scoring 5 points a game, despite being the leader in shots for the Knicks. The Knicks hope J.R. can recover and be on the court very soon, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be with his brother there any time in the near future.
Iman Shumpert… F
While we only saw Shump for one game, it was lackluster. The whole experience was terrible. Shumpert struggled in every asset of his game, as he scored just 2 points and turned the ball over 4 times. I thought the Summer League would be a good experience for Iman, as the Knicks needed some help at the point guard position. I thought this would be good practice for Shumpert, but after one horrific game Shumpert called it quits and deported out to China. It got worse when Stephen A. Smith was recorded telling Dwight Howard that James Dolan [Knicks GM] was on the verge of trading Shumpert because of his unexpected absence. While that would be ridiculous, as Iman is quickly developing into one of the brightest future talents in the league, you never know what could happen. So all we learned from Shumpert’s one game is that he lost tons of respect from the management and he needs A LOT of work at the point guard position before making that next step.
NOTE: Liam McMorrow, Tony Mitchell (who has potential) and A.J Matthews were not included, as neither of them played enough to receive a fair grade.
Overall, I give this Knicks Summer League team a solid B. They had some good talent, and some struggling prospects, but if you take out the loss to the Heat, they were a +6 against the other 4 opponents. In the future, the Knick fans will see a lot of Toure Murry, Jeremy Tyler, Tim Hardaway Jr., and C.J Leslie, and it is highly likely that they will be on the 15 man roster come opening night.