RJ Barrett scored 25 points in the second preseason game, but the Knicks did not perform at their best against the Pistons on Sunday.
With the second game of the preseason in the books, the New York Knicks are officially no longer undefeated. This was not the prettiest game to watch, ending in a 99-91 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Let’s look at some of the positives and the many negatives in the second game of the preseason.
- R.J. Barrett: Enough said. After a rough preseason debut and continued befuddling lineups with nonexistent spacing, Barrett was able to get it going tonight, finishing 10-of-17 from the field and a couple of especially nice passes. He did struggle from deep, but overall, fans should be thrilled with this performance. This was exactly the version of Barrett that fans hope to see: creating plays for himself as well as others. It was enough to wonder if Barrett will continue to get more primary playmaking reps going forward.
RJ Barrett had a NIGHT 🔥 @RjBarrett6
• 25 points (10-17 FG, 4-5 FT)
• 4 rebounds
• 2 assists
• 1 steal
• 36 minutes played pic.twitter.com/fLKDqtypr1
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 14, 2020
- Obi Toppin: Now, you might say that Obi shooting 1-for-6 from behind the arc and 1-of-8 from the field should not be in the positive section of this article, and you may be right. Let me play the devil’s advocate role. Obi shot a lot, and shot willingly tonight, and that is nice to see. Ultimately, Toppin’s jumper will be a make-or-break skill for him as a player. Assuming that jumper will start to fall with time, it is important to see his willingness to shoot.
- Immanuel Quickley: Quickley, who did not play in the debut against Detroit, finally got to start his Knicks career tonight. He did appear a bit jittery, but it was nice to see him add to the spacing that the Knicks so desperately need. It will be nice to see him add some offensive firepower as he gets more comfortable.
- Alec Burks: Burks did not do much in the preseason opener, but was the lone Knick to hit multiple threes tonight. The spacing he provides showed why he was brought into the organization.
- Lineups: There are going to be some awkward lineups throughout this year based on a fairly ill-fitting roster. We know Thibs is going to stick to the older guys, and that may result in some cringe-inducing lineups, including both Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle. There was a bit of lineup versatility today, including the debut of the aforementioned Quickley, who played in some closing lineups. Quickley, Frank Ntilikina, Barrett, Toppin, and Mitchell Robinson was a lineup I was happy to see get some runtime together.
- Everything else. This game was not aesthetically pleasing, and there were few Knicks to praise coming out of this loss.
- Kevin Knox and Dennis Smith Jr: Two guys fans would love to see succeed, and have been given reps to prove themselves. With games like tonight, there will be questions as to why they continue to receive those opportunities. Smith was 1-of-5 from the field and Knox 1-for-6 himself, finishing with two points apiece. This was a rough game for both guys, and we can only hope they look better going forward.
- Julius Randle: It is safe to say that Randle is not a crowd favorite with the Knicks faithful at this point, and with games like tonight, he is not going to do himself any favors. He finished with 18 points, but those points did not come easy. Lineups with Randle and Toppin continue to struggle, and it does not appear that there will be a natural fit there.
- Mitchell Robinson: Unlike Randle, Robinson has many followers and defenders within the community right now, and with good reasons after two fantastic seasons to start his career. Tonight, we saw some regression in a game that is going to make some fans question Mitch going forward. He once again struggled with foul trouble and still is far too eager to jump and bite on pump fakes. There is clearly room for growth based off of tonight’s performance.
This was a rough game to watch, but Barrett’s performance is enough for some fans to chalk it up as a moral victory. There are definite issues and things we hope will improve as the preseason moves on, but it is still early in the season, so there is some reason for positivity.
And if you are not positive: Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers at 7:30 EST can be looked at as a double header, as Cade Cunningham plays at 9:00 EST on ESPN2.