With Nigel Hayes and Isaiah Hicks back in Westchester, how do the DubKnicks look at this juncture of the season?
The remarkable 2017–18 campaign for the Westchester Knicks continued Wednesday night as they knocked off the Iowa Wolves 107–83 on “Family Fun Night” at the Westchester County Center. Despite the frequent roster changes and notable transactions over the last six weeks or so, the DubKnicks had maintained the G League’s best record at 26–14. Wednesday night’s contest was mostly a back and forth game until Westchester pulled away late in the third quarter. The up-tempo pace combined with the surprisingly loud volume of the crowd made for an exhilarating watch.
Notable former college stars Melo Trimble (19 points, six assists, four rebounds), Amile Jefferson (12 points, 17 rebounds), and Perry Jones III (12 points) suited up for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ G League affiliate and indeed impressed—but not quite enough to take down Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Nigel Hayes, Isaiah Hicks, and company in their house.
The energy and hustle that the Westchester Knicks displayed Wednesday night was something that caught my eye throughout the game. Every Knick who saw the floor this evening, whether it be for 25 minutes or five minutes, was engaged and clearly played their tail off. Aggressive drives to the rack, active hands on defense, and the desire to secure loose balls was a theme of last night’s game. I mentioned how terrific of a job head coach Mike Miller is doing getting his guys to play cohesively and with passion in the last trip to White Plains. I am shouting him out again, and deservedly so. Kudos to Coach Miller for seemingly pushing all of the right buttons this season and being able to endure constant roster overhaul, thus having his team playing at a consistently high level.
The victory marks the third win for the DubKnicks in three trips I’ve made to the County Center this season. Guess you could say TKW is a good luck charm.
Some more observations from Westchester’s win in Westchester:
XRM to NBA?
A stat sheet stuffing performance of 25 points, seven assists, three rebounds, and four steals from Xavier Rathan-Mayes has become the norm for this dude ever since he put on a DubKnicks jersey. His triple-doubles, and more importantly his ability to impact a game on a variety of different fronts, are the reasons I give him a legitimate chance to make it to the Knicks this year.
XRM has proven himself to be the Swiss Army knife of the team and is always extremely vocal on the court, wearing his emotions on his sleeve in a positive way. He is now the focal point of the DubKnicks since the departure of Trey Burke and is the driving force behind a team that has been able to coast smoothly though all of the roster changes this season.
The defensive ability of XRM is something that often goes unnoticed and could bode well for him when considered for an NBA call up. He competes on every possession even though he is limited athletically and is usually assigned to defend guards of larger stature. Not to get too ahead of myself, but the Knicks might have found their hidden gem in XRM, and he has the potential to become a solid contributor and role filler, similar to that of Malcolm Brogdon of the Milwaukee Bucks.
With the current state of the New York Knicks being what it is, coupled with the fact that they haven’t been shy in terms of calling up guys from the G League, don’t be surprised if the 23-year-old former Florida State Seminole is given the opportunity to ball in the Association at some point this season.
Nigel Hayes Is Back!
After temporarily losing Nigel Hayes to the Lakers via a 10-day contract, he returned to the DubKnicks January 30th. Hayes has been a key contributor since the expiration of his deal with Los Angeles: 22 points, seven rebounds, and six assists tonight is ultra impressive and shows how dangerous Hayes can be when has the ball in his hands from all areas of the floor.
Hayes was rocking the new cornrows hairstyle Wednesday and has proven to be an interesting prospect to look at due to his clear NBA potential. His big game experience at the University of Wisconsin, combined with his solid play in the G League, should be enough to know that Hayes is no scrub. The impact he has had on the team while still being the second or third offensive option makes his contributions that much more impressive.
The recent acquisition of Troy Williams by the Knicks will most likely make it difficult for Hayes to get a crack with the big boy Knicks this season, since they both play the forward position. Hayes could get a 10-day contract from another team at any point and be gone in the blink of an eye, so it’s important for the Knicks to find out what they have in him and give him ample opportunity to develop within the organization.
There is one glaring difference on offense watching the DubKnicks in comparison to the New York Knicks, and that is crisp ball movement. Tonight, and in every other Westchester game I’ve attended, I’ve noticed the team does an excellent job moving the ball and finding the open man with the highest percentage look. As for the NBA Knicks, they always seem to overpass or hold the ball for too long which results in many wasted, empty, and frustrating offensive possessions. Whether that’s due to the trust level among players, larger egos at the NBA level, or whatever it may be, it is day and night watching these two teams pass the ball. It explains why one is 26–14 and the other is 23-36.
Coach Miller during the post game addressed his teams excellent ball movement:
Every one of these guys plays for each other and they make intelligent decisions with the ball for the most part. When we move the ball well it creates better looks for our team, resulting in an efficient brand of basketball, which equals winning.
Pretty simple concept when you think about it, but it is easier said than done. Excellent job by the DubKnicks all season on excelling in the ball movement department.
With 10 regular season games remaining on the schedule for the Westchester Knicks, they look to finish out the season strong and head into the playoffs with significant momentum. Their next game is this Saturday, February 24th @ 3 p.m. at home against the Raptors 905, who are right behind them in the Atlantic Division standings.