The Knicks held their annual “open practice” at Madison Square Garden—with a calvary of cheering fans to watch the young team get reps in.

The crowd at the Garden for the Knicks’ open practice on Saturday may not have gotten the notice that this wasn’t a game. Knicks fever swept through the arena as fans filed in to get their first glimpse of their squad all together.

Here are some thoughts that I had while sitting on the floor on the baseline with my camera:

  • I doubt Fizdale has paid for a drink since he got to New York. Simply put, the fans love him; the cheers he received when he was announced were pretty much as loud as Kristaps’.
  • Expect New York to run more. While speaking with Rebecca Haarlow, Fizdale said, “We’re looking to play uptempo, but none of that matters if we’re not guarding.” I think this is what a lot of Knicks fans expect, but it continues the Knicks’ recent streak of saying all the right things.
  • Speaking of playing uptempo, rookie Kevin Knox was looking to push the pace every time he touched the ball. The 19-year-old continued to impress, knocking down a three within the first few minutes of the first scrimmage and repeatedly getting to the rim on his drives.
  • On a related note, Luke Kornet can’t guard Kevin Knox. Albeit, part of that may be that Knox definitely looks bigger in person. He appears to have added some muscle since Summer League and seemed to be able to absorb more contact on his drives. I’d be interested to see what he weights in at when the season begins.
  • Boy, they weren’t kidding when they said Frank added 10 to 15 pounds of muscle during the offseason. The French Prince is going to be a major thorn in the side of opposing players, and the added muscle doesn’t appear to be slowing him down. His handle looked tighter, still a bit awkward at times, but there’s been obvious improvement since last season.

 

 

  • Mitchell Robinson isn’t ready. The hazards of Summer League hype, I suppose. Kanter showed him what’s what in the post, and I wasn’t keeping count, but he would have at least been close to fouling out too.
  • Former Arizona Wildcat Allonzo Trier has the potential to contribute this year. Admittedly, I hadn’t seen much of him before Summer League, but watching him in person, I was surprised by his athleticism. He did get tunnel vision on a few possession, but his feel for the NBA game will come, but you can’t teach someone to have as quick of a first step as he does.
  • Kanter could average 20 and 10 this year. With Robinson likely starting in the G League and Joakim Noah all but gone, Kanter’s only real competition at center will come from Kornet or possibly Vonleh. No matter how bad the team is this year, someone is going to put up points, and in a weak Eastern Conference, that and playing in New York may be enough to send Enes to Charlotte for the All-Star Game.
  • Mario Hezonja, Vonleh and Emmanuel Mudiay all played like guys who know there’ll be opportunities for them. With the Knicks core being so young, these three guys know they’ll likely be called on to shoulder some of the load as they’re becoming veterans before our eyes. The front office gambled on a few guys who didn’t pan out in their initial situations, and they all played like they know they have something to prove. Mudiay, sporting a headband, got to the rim without an issue, but had some difficulties finishing. I think Vonleh may be made of stone, that man is strong. And Mario shot well, moved the ball, worked on defense and did some talking after a block towards the end of the scrimmage.
  • Dotson looked much better than he did in Las Vegas and seemed comfortable behind the arc. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. also looked prettymuch as expected, although more of the shots that THJ took too early in the possession were from deep, rather than from the midrange, which is progress. Trey shot more from deep as well, and was hitting them with more frequency than Timmy—I’d be surprised if he didn’t start.
  • Lastly, Kristaps is for the children. Sitting next to their bench I saw a few different kids come over during the practice, he also asked security to bring him a boy’s jersey which he signed, along with a few basketball cards. It was clear how bad he wanted to be out there, he’d grin at the crowd and glare at the court. Porzingis also sounded like another coach on the bench from time to time, shouting out encouragement and advice to his teammates. He misses playing, and as someone who thinks that sitting out the entire season may be in his best interest, his eagerness was both heartening and a bit concerning. Too bad I don’t have x-ray vision though, no matter how hard I stared, I couldn’t see his knee through his tights.