The New York Knicks will start their Summer League schedule today with a matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans in Las Vegas. For Knicks fans there will be very few familiar faces on the court in Las Vegas today, but don’t panic because Kevin Metz and Ankit Mehra of the Empire Writes Back are here to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about the Knicks summer league roster.
Iman Shumpert will see his first summer league action for the New York Knicks when he takes the floor for the Knicks tomorrow afternoon in Las Vegas. The fact that Shumpert has never played in summer league may come as a surprise to some, but due to coming into the league during the NBA’s lockout season, and then recovering from a torn ACL in his second season with the Knicks Shumpert has never had the opportunity.
Now Shumpert will enter his first summer league game as the veteran presence on the floor. While some fans have expressed concerns about the Knicks pushing Shumpert too hard, the main reason Iman will be suiting up this summer in Vegas is so that he can get some time at PG, a position the Knicks front office is hoping the 3rd year standout can play a little this season. Shumpert will likely play limited minutes in summer league (15-20 mpg) but is in a good position to have a positive impact on the inexperienced Knicks summer league roster.
The whole point of the summer league is to look for fresh talent that can take the NBA by storm and to me; Toure Murray looks like a boom or bust player. Let’s hope it’s the former.
Murray played his college ball at Wichita St. but ever since his days there, he has been succumbed to playing D-League ball, where he has shined. Murray has proven that he is an elite point guard in the D-League but can he make the jump? I feel that the Knicks coaching staff have spotted his potential and that is why, I expect him to play 22-25 minutes a game and average around 15 ppg, 6 apg, and 2 rpg while shooting 43% from the field and 32% from behind the arc.
Another interesting prospect on the list is Tony Mitchell. Mitchell played his college ball at Alabama but then was kicked off the team. He proceeded to be part of the D-League and eventually the MVP of the D-League. This kid also won the Sprite Dunk Factory D-League Dunk Competition. Mitchell is capable of being big in this league because of his high energy play, great shooting stroke, and athleticism. I project that Mitchell will play 30-32 minutes a game and average 18 ppg, 2 apg, 7 rpg, on 52% shooting from the field, and 35% shooting from behind the arc.
Most Knicks fans know Chris Smith as the younger brother of NBA sixth man of the year JR Smith. Smith, a former Louisville Cardinal, does not have much of a game, and ultimately is part of the Knicks to keep his older brother happy. Seeing as Smith is more famous for putting his foot in his mouth than his play on the basketbal court I don’t expect Chris to see that much action during summer league as the Knicks will be more interested in evaluating players that can actually make an impact for the club.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Being the Knicks only draft pick from this year, all eyes will be on Tim Hardaway Jr. in summer league. Lucky for him, the Knicks coaching staff knows how to handle these situations and he should expect to get a ton of support from the Knicks staff as they try to figure out how the rookie fits into their plans. Hardaway Jr. is an elite scorer who in this year’s summer league is capable of taking over any game. Expect Hardaway Jr. to play up to 35 minutes a game and post some pretty impressive stat lines.
Some predicted that CJ Leslie that would at the latest fall to the second round, most predicted that he would be a late first round choice, neither were right and he ended up going undrafted. Luckily for the Knicks, later that night he agreed on a contract with the Knicks to play for their summer league team, and most recently, a contract to play for the New York Knicks in the 2013-2014 NBA season.
I expect that Leslie will get a fair bit of playing time (30-32 minutes) and be very productive on the floor in Vegas. Expect to see Leslie working on his mid-range shot aas he hopes to crack the Knicks rotation come November.
AJ Mathews is a rare talent to find. It’s not every day that you find a kid that is 7’1, has a great vertical, and is capable of doing big things in the low post on both ends of the court. Matthews, a native of Brooklyn, NY, has shown promise in the D-League ball where he excelled like many prospects on the Knicks Summer League team. To me Matthews seems like a guy who’s on the fringes of the NBA but would be better off in the D-League for another year to help develop his game even more. I see the Knicks coaching staff giving Matthews a good run of 15-20 minutes a game but sadly I don’t see Mathews having a huge impact in Vegas.
Brown played his college ball at Texas but then left for Europe and is currently in the Greek league where he averaged a measly 9.3 ppg. Brown is known for his defensive tenacity but as I’ve said many times, to be good in this league you need production on both ends of the floor. The best case scenario for Brown is for him to develop into a poor mans Iman Shumpert, but to do so he’ll need to improve his shooting, particularly from beyond the arc. I expect the Knicks coaching staff to play Brown for 10-15 mpg and think he’ll have a solid impact during Summer League.
Terrence Jennings played his college ball at Louisville but didn’t amount to anything special. He carried that into the D-League, where Jennings has primarily been a role player. I don’t expect Jennings to have much of an impact in Summer League, where he’ll be see very limited minutes.
Jerome Jordan has a lot to be playing for in this year’s summer league. The ex-Knick has been out of the NBA for a while now, and with the Knicks having presented him with this chance to work his way back to New York I see him taking it, which is something that can only benefit the organization. Jordan is a high energy, frontcourt player, who can and has played all three front court positions. I see the Knicks coaching staff giving him 25-28 mpg in Vegas where hopefully the big man can show that he still has enough left in the tank to help the Knicks win games this upcoming season.
Justin Brownlee has a similar resumé to Terrence Jennings expect that in Brownlee’s final year of college ball, he did quite well averaging 12.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.9 apg, and 1.1 spg on 49% shooting from the field and 34% shooting from behind the arc. Unfortunately it all went downhill after that. Brownlee went undrafted and after not being picked up by any teams during the summer league, went on to play in the D-League where he has been a marginal player at best. The Knicks coaching staff sees potential in the former St. Johns star, and will be looking to see if he can recreate that success in Summer League. Expect to see the Knicks coaching staff give Brownlee around 18-20 mpg.
Tyler has played two season in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors in 2011-2012 and then the Atlanta Hawks for part of the 2012-2013 season before heading back west to a reunion with Golden State. Tyler has not shown glimpses of what he can do in the league and that is why the Knicks are taking a chance on him. The 22 year old PF should expect to see 11-13 mpg during Summer League and make a minor impact.
The final player that was picked for the Knicks summer league roster is the undrafted PF out of Duke, Eloy Vargas. Vargas has not showed much potential to amount to anything in the NBA after averaging an abysmal 1.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.6 bpg, 0.1 apg, and 0.1 spg for the Blue Devils. With very little chance to make an NBA roster expect to see Vargas play very little throughout Summer League
Knicks’ Summer League Schedule
Games at Cox Pavilion:
Friday, July 12 vs. New Orleans 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 14 vs. Washington 4:00 p.m.
Monday, July 15 vs. Charlotte 4:00 p.m.
July 17-22 Tournament Play TBD
All in all, this is one of best Summer League rosters competing this season, and one of the best ones the Knicks have put out to compete in quite some time. I fully expect to see a lot of players shine from this mostly talented group of young players.
Topics: AJ Matthews, Chris Smith, CJ Leslie, Eloy Vargas, Iman Shumpert, Jeremy Tyler, Jerome Jordan, Justin Brownlee, J’Covan Brown, Knicks Summer League Roster, Las Vegas Summer League, NBA Summer League, New York Knicks, NY Knicks, Terrence Jennings, Tim Hardaway Jr., Tony Mitchell, Toure Murray