The New York Knicks have completed their first week of preseason games. The Knicks finished 1-2, but as most of you know the preseason is less about the final result and more about the development of the team.
There were some positives and negatives to take away from the first three preseason games.
Tim Hardaway Jr. can play. The rookie averaged 12.6 points per game in the first three preseason contests. Hardaway Jr. displayed confidence that is needed for a rookie to make an impact in the NBA. The Michigan guard’s most impressive game came in the first game against the Celtics. Hardaway Jr. scored 16 points, 10 in the fourth quarter, including the game winning jumper with 8.2 seconds left. If Hardaway Jr. continues to improve he will earn minutes in the Knicks rotation. He will be important early on in the season, because J.R. Smith is recovering from knee surgery and will miss at least five games due to suspension.
Iman Shumpert also played well. Before the first game, coach Mike Woodson said that Shumpert’s starting role from last year would be up for grabs. Woodson said that the starting role would go to J.R. Smith or Shumpert. The third year guard made his claim for the starting spot in the first game against the Celtics shooting 7-7 from the field. Shumpert said he is playing with a “chip” on his shoulder this year. Shumpert’s motivation should make him a viable scoring option for the Knicks.
Another key for the Knicks is the pairing of Andrea Bargnani and Carmelo Anthony. They started the first two games along with Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton, and Tyson Chandler. Bargnani and Anthony looked good together. They had good spacing on offense and worked off each other. More importantly Carmelo was pain free after the first two games. Anthony recovered from a torn rotator cuff and a partially torn labrum in his shoulder during the offseason. Anthony elected to let the shoulder heal, rather than have surgery. The decision worked out for Anthony. Anthony’s health is paramount to the Knicks ability to compete for a championship.
None of the Knicks camp invites to fill the role at backup center have stepped up in the first three preseason games. Ike Diogu, Cole Aldrich, and Josh Powell are competing for the spot. They were all inconsistent throughout the first three games and strugggled to defend at times. Ike Diogu had the most impressive game, scoring 21 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in the 2nd matchup against the Celtics. As of now Cole Aldrich is assumed to be in the lead for the roster spot because of his 6-foot-11 frame. He provides greater length than the other players.
Beno Udrih performed poorly. He only had two more assists (9) than turnovers (7) in two games. He did not play in the third game. It is almost certain the veteran Udrih will make the roster as the third point guard. He will need to adjust to the system by the time the season starts. Fortunately, he has the rest of preseason and training camp to get acclimated to his new role.
The Knicks will begin their second week of training camp. They do not play another preseason game until Thursday. They will take on the Washington Wizards at 7 P.M. (ET).