It was a riotous affair in the District of Columbia as the young Knicks defeated the Wizards to open the preseason. Entertaining moments from New York’s draft picks Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson were abound in the 124–121 victory.
Hello, Knicks fans! Welcome to the 2018–19 NBA season. Sing it with me—it’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeeaaar. We made it! We’re back!
The New York Knicks enter their first preseason game against the John Wall and Bradley Beal-led Washington Wizards. After an eventful offseason, where both the roster and staff were overhauled, head coach David Fizdale has made it known that the Knicks will feature a fast-paced, opportunistic offense.
Fizdale’s first lineup includes: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kevin Knox, Lance Thomas, and Enes Kanter.
Let’s dive into the preseason win.
Right off the bat…
Trey Burke is starting over Frank Ntilikina. Nothing to fret about Knicks fans, this was a possibility after Burke’s sizzling end to the ’17–’18 season. What this tells us? The starting unit needs some firepower, and Burke packs a punch with the ability to create his own shot while spreading the floor.
Tim Hardaway Jr. continued to show off his offensive prowess, drilling a shot from the beyond the arc. Timmy took some contested shots, but his ability to put the ball in the bucket is unquestioned and will be a major part of the Knicks’ offense (he would finish with 11 points in 12 minutes).
Emmanuel Mudiay was the first player off the bench—before Frank Ntilikina. He still can’t finish a layup, which is literally what every fan was hoping he’d improve on. Classic Mudiay? That said, he’s athletically gifted and can get to the basket with ease.
Mario Hezonja, a free-agent addition, had some nice first moments a Knicks, dishing an alley oop to Mitchell Robinson and draining a deep shot from behind the arc. A very “meh” night by Hezonja, committing five turnovers and four personal fouls.
Mario to Mitch Rob oh boy I cannot wait to watch this happen all season pic.twitter.com/Cw9JDxJJ1G
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 1, 2018
Knox’s first impression
Rookie Kevin Knox rightfully experienced nerves entering his first NBA game, shooting long on his first few attempts. That didn’t stop him from showing off his versatility – running in transition, driving to the basket, taking open three-pointers, and grabbing defensive rebounds.
Knox was elite in transition, needing only a couple dribbles to take the ball up the court, which he did when Trey Burke was not doing so.
Knox with the triple oooooweeee they’re firing on all cylinders right now. pic.twitter.com/wQiaIBX7Kh
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 2, 2018
He’s no slouch defensively. Like our second son Frank, Knox has elite length and has the ability to defend positions 1-4, as he showcased by guarding Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and Jason Smith.
He finished the night with 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and two steals. He was 4-for-9 from the field and shot 75 percent from the free-throw line.
Frank’s no longer a rookie—what did he show?
A rather quiet first half for Frank. Slicing and dicing, Ntilikina managed to get into the lane and drained his first floater of the season on a pretty play. He used his body well to create separation. It’s worth noting that Scott Perry said that Ntilikina gained 10-15 lbs of muscle over the offseason.
Similar to last season, Frank is still somewhat timid on offense and seems more comfortable in the half-court offense. He made an open shot from behind the arc, which Knox assisted on. This is a duo that fans are hoping to see a lot more of as the season progresses.
Bottom line is that there’s a lot left to be desired from Ntilikina. Time will tell what kind of mentality he developed over the summer, but we’re hoping that he’s significantly more aggressive offensively.
But how was the defense?
Lots of switching. Lots and lots of switching. So much so that several Knicks were late to their assignments, allowing for open shots for the Wizards.
41 personal fouls were committed in the first half between the Knicks and Wizards.
New York was very active defensively. Getting their hands in the passing lanes and putting their hands up to contest shots were trademarks of Fizdale’s club.
The Point Guard Battle
Trey Burke started, Emmanuel Mudiay was the first guard off the bench, and Frank Ntilikina rarely brought the ball up the court.
It’s the first preseason game, so it doesn’t say much, but it could be a sign of what this team thinks of Frank—do they see him more as a shooting guard?
Burke still has it. Creating for others off of the pick-and-roll, running all over the court, and swishing contested mid-range shots like it’s April ‘18.
Mudiay lost 10 lbs this summer, further enhancing the notion that the Knicks are an extremely well-conditioned team.
Ummm…Mitchell Robinson is spooky
Catching lobs and blocking shots, right where we left off from Summer League. His instincts in terms of catching and timing along with his wingspan opens up the Knicks’ vertical offense.
Oh yeah, he also accrued three fouls in the first half. He’s extremely raw and needs time to develop. Defensively, when he loses his assignment he has a tendency to flail his arms and jump around until he finds his man—with proper development and playing time, this should be an easy fix.
Mitch got Markieff Morris fired up and EJECTED in the second quarter. Whatever Mitch is saying or doing, please keep it up.
MITCH ROB WANTS ALL THE SMOKE pic.twitter.com/1UPuGoZKVb
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 2, 2018
Is Mitchell Robinson G League bound? He’s talented, his presence is felt on the court, and he brings tremendous energy on the boards. Many are suggesting he should spend some time in the G League, but he may make them look goofy in the long run.
- Allonzo Trier made his debut. He came off the bench before Dotson, who did not play in the first half. Very interesting little tidbit to definitely follow as the season moves progresses. Note: this could be due to Trier playing for that 15th spot on the roster and Fizdale giving him a chance to fight.
- Noah Vonleh, Kadeem Allen, and Damyean Dotson got their first minutes in the third quarter, when the Knicks led 76-73.
- Vonleh had three personal fouls within five minutes of entering the game (along with a pretty put-back dunk).
- Vonleh chose New York in free agency because of coach David Fizdale, as noted in MSG Networks’ broadcast.
- Ron Baker made his debut in the fourth quarter.
- With the third-stringers in the game, the bench guys were able to secure the W in overtime.
- Mike Breen suggests getting a “Fizdale Cam,” which is a tremendous idea.
BREAKING: Walt “Clyde” Frazier confirms new suits for the 2018–19 season. Stay tuned for some electric outfits.