The day started out with some bad news, but ended with some good news. The bad news was that the Iman Shumpert at point guard experiment was over. Shumpert was held out of the Knicks’ second summer league game on Sunday against the Washington Wizards because he had a prior commitment that had him scheduled to be headed to China. The good news, though, is that Knick fans got to see a little bit more of Toure Murry.
Chris Smith started at point guard and the Knicks’ offense was stagnant, to say the least. I know it’s only summer league, but Smith picked up his dribble way too often once he finally got the ball past the half court line and the offense had absolutely no flow. Smith would end up playing just 15 minutes, provide four assists, have zero turnovers, but shoot 0-5 from the field. Once Toure Murry entered the game, the pace changed immediately. Not only does Murry show a good handle, but he ran pick and roll very patiently. His defensive intensity led to the Knicks creating some turnovers and getting out in transition.
Didn’t the Knicks want to run a bit more and get younger this offseason? Murry brings all of that plus terrific on the ball defense and excellent off the ball awareness. Murry’s stat line was 24 minutes, 8 points on 4/8 from the field, 0/1 from three, six rebounds, and three assists. The only major negative was Murry’s five turnovers, which I believe were a product of Murry trying to do too much and not really knowing his teammates well enough. However, Murry recognized it and took the blame on the court. On some of the plays, Murry had saw ahead of the play and the other players were not ready for the pass.
Another highlight was the continued aggressiveness and rebounding of big man Jeremy Tyler. Tyler started and played just 13 minutes. However, in that short span, he scored 13 points on 6/9 from the floor and 8 rebounds. Tyler got in foul trouble with four personals and he threw an elbow at Chris Singleton leading to a technical. As our friend Seth Rosenthal tweeted, “Jeremy Tyler has feelings.” Tyler is trying real hard, almost too hard, though he is making an impression on the Knicks’ front office. Tyler and Murry will most likely get training camp invites, according to various media outlets.
Terrence Jennings was outstanding for an outside shooting big man. He had another impressive performance. In Game 1, Jennings was 3/5 from the field for 6 points and 6 rebounds in 11 minutes. He played 20 minutes on Sunday, shot 7/11 from the field for a team leading 16 points and 8 rebounds. He ran the pick and pop with Murry to perfection displaying great range despite a hitch in his shooting motion. Once again, the Knicks actually have a good summer league team!
CJ Leslie and Tim Hardaway Jr. showed more of the same skill set. Leslie is still good in transition with an excellent first step, he just needs to work on his footwork in the post, jump shot and his decision making. He is skinny for a 6-9 forward, therefore he needs to work on his shooting to make the rotation. Hardaway was very impressive before bruising his left wrist, which took him out of the game early in the second quarter. X rays on Hardaway were negative and he might play on Monday calling it just a mild sprain. His wrist was wrapped in ice for the rest of the day. Hardaway showed great explosion off the dribble driving into the lane for an impressive flush early on. Once again, Hardaway showed the ability to score in a variety of ways and I would have loved to watch him pay the entire game to see if his consistency improved. Overall, 9 points in 9 minutes off 3/6 from the field and 1/2 from downtown was a great start to the day for Hardaway and the Knicks.
Call me optimistic, but I legitimately see four of these players making the Knicks team this fall. Hardaway and Leslie are locks and the Knicks will do well by adding Toure Murry and Jeremy Tyler. Can’t wait to see more of them on Monday!