The New York Knicks opened the preseason in Washington last night. The Knicks were without their, possible, starting point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who is resting his strained back.
The injury to Smith Jr. is nothing serious, just precautionary measures. This opens up time for Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton to showcase their skills and heat up the battle for point guard minutes.
The Knicks, led by RJ Barrett and Marcus Morris with 17 points each, defeated the Wizards 104-99.
However, Morris was ejected for swinging his elbows then hitting Justin Anderson on the head with the basketball. In his post-game interview, Morris said, “We not taking no sh*t.” Morris’ actions were uncalled for, but the fact that the Knicks have an enforcer is nice, in a way. It’s the New York Knicks turn to fight back.
Barrett was a bright spot throughout the entire game for the Knicks. He was shut down Bradley Beal in the first half, but struggled offensively. The second half was when Barrett settled in. His teammates kept feeding him the ball, as Barrett had the hot hand in the second half. He was aggressive and knocking down shots. Barrett was 6-13 from the field, 46%.
The Knicks leader, Julius Randle had a strong Knicks debut. Randle looked strong and quick when taking the ball down-low. At times, he got a little too fancy with the passes, but was able to make provide solid assists to his teammates.
Mitchell Robinson was every where in the first half. Blocking shots, rebounding, stretching the floor and dunking. He also did a fine job at not fouling as much. Of course, he had some dumb cheap fouls in the second half, but nothing crazy.
Frank Ntilikina played very well, despite a not so good stat line. The main thing was Ntilikina was aggressive and not afraid to drive and take his shot. This version is Ntilikina is a lot better than last season, coming off that high of performing well for France in the FIBA World Cup. If he can perfect, the mid-range jumper, it can be deadly.
Taj Gibson provided good veteran leadership on the floor and was able to find his stroke from beyond the arc. Wayne Ellington is sharp-shooter with great form and a great addition to the Knicks.
Despite the score, the Knicks were up by double-digits pretty much the whole game. The bench provided a good spark to the team and is very deep.
Overall, this Knicks team is very enjoyable and a team the New York could fall in love with. Yes, it was one preseason game, but this team is different. A lot of talent on the roster to make some noise in the East if they play to their potential. There’s a good mix of young, veteran presence and it could work. The future seems to be bright.