Curry reminds Knicks of what they missed but McBride offers hope

Knicks Curry McBride

The special night belonged to Stephen Curry.

He broke Ray Allen’s record for the most three-pointers in NBA history, and his Golden State Warriors came away with a 105-96 win over the New York Knicks Tuesday night at the Garden.

But the Knicks could take solace on squeezing another solid performance from one of their recent draft picks.

Miles McBride, the 36th pick of the draft, seized the opportunity to show he belongs and deserves to share the court with Curry. With the Knicks missing three players (RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Quentin Grimes) due to health and safety protocols, McBride was Tom Thibodeau’s ninth man in the rotation.

After checking in for Evan Fournier in the final six seconds of the opening quarter, McBride quickly made his presence felt. He opened the second quarter with his first stepback three-pointer.

With some razzle-dazzle dribbling, the 6-foot-1 McBride shook off Damian Lee, then used Mitchell Robinson’s screen to lose his bigger defender. After creating the space, he stepped back to the right corner and avoided Nemanja Bjelica’s closeout.

Six minutes later, he did it again against the Warriors’ defensive stalwart Juan Toscano-Anderson from the right elbow.

Mcbride’s two beautiful stepback three-pointers helped the Knicks build a 46-38 lead before the Warriors stormed back and cut the deficit at the half to a solitary point, 48-47.

Buoyed by his stellar first half, McBride got a longer leash in the final two quarters. The rookie out of West Virginia ended up playing a season-high 20 minutes. He responded with eight points on 3 of 8 shooting and went 2 for 4 from downtown. He added four rebounds and one assist with no turnover, showing nerves of steel for a rookie.

“We see it in practice. When he’s had opportunities in the G-League, he’s played really well there as well. He played well in the summer league. It’s good for him to have an opportunity like that,” Thibodeau said of McBride. “All the things that he’s working on every day and then to get into a game situation and to see it unfold, it’s good, it’s positive. Our young guys are really playing hard, and they’re coming along.”

McBride’s confidence was oozing all night. Even the shots that he missed, he took them with conviction. There was no sign of hesitation.

Four impressive games in the G League prepared McBride for his moment. He dominated the G League competition with monster numbers — 26.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 1.3 steals — and shot 40.5 percent from the three-point territory on 9.3 attempts.

“Deuce is a good player, man,” Derrick Rose said. His confidence is very high. His defense is top-tier. He just needs the time. Hopefully, Thibs gives him the time. But we know how good he is. And we know how good the rookies are. So it’s all about opportunity in this league.”

Thibodeau constantly harped about “confidence comes from preparation.”

McBride is another proof of that Thibodeau’s tenet.

When preparation met opportunity, he grabbed it, and he never let it go. McBride was the only Knicks player who finished with a positive (+4) plus-minus.

Barring any trade that would bring in a solid Kemba Walker replacement in the coming days, McBride figures to play more minutes moving forward as they continue to miss their COVID-19 stricken teammates.

McBride leapfrogging Walker in the rotation could be the final sign that the former four-time All-Star point guard is on his way out of New York. Walker and Fournier, who had a season-low two points on 1 of 5 shooting, will be trade-eligible beginning Wednesday.

Thibodeau remained steadfast with his decision to sit out Walker despite the Knicks sliding to their seventh loss in the last eight games — their record since he yanked the New York-bred point guard out of the rotation.

“You just want to put your team in a position to win. If you look at the games and you go through the games, there’s some really good stuff, and there’s some stuff that, obviously, has to be better,” Thibodeau reasoned out.

While Golden State coach Steve Kerr has it all figured out with the Warriors thanks to the continuity of their championship core led by Curry, Thibodeau is still learning more about his team.

“I think we’re finding some stuff out about some [of our] young guys. I love our young guys. When Jericho [Sims] stepped in, he played well (in Atlanta). When Quentin (Grimes) stepped in, he played well. I thought Deuce (Miles McBride) played well tonight. So, you know, we need everyone.”

What is becoming more apparent is that the Knicks’ offseason acquisitions — Walker and Fournier — have been a major flop. Their rookies’ promising showing somehow provides the silver lining amid a disastrous start.

Curry capped his 22-point (5 of 14 3s) performance with the dagger three-pointer in the final 2:41.

Curry’s historic night was a painful reminder of what the Knicks missed in the 2009 NBA Draft. They came one pick away from perhaps their greatest selection since Patrick Ewing.

The Warriors scuttled their plan.

To the victor belongs the spoils. To the loser belongs the lessons.

After several draft misses, finally, the Knicks appear to have had hit their recent picks.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Miles McBride dominates in G League debut

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New York Knicks rookie Miles McBride made the most out of the opportunity and showed out in a spectacular G League debut.

After playing only four garbage minutes in two games to start his rookie season, McBride proved he belonged to the NBA by stamping his class in the developmental league.

McBride came one assist shy of a double-double providing the jolt for the Westchester Knicks to pick up their first win of the season — a 104-98 victory over Long Island Nets on Wednesday night.

The Knicks rookie guard out of West Virginia scattered 29 points and a game-high nine assists. He added five rebounds and two steals as Westchester won its home opener in its temporary home, snapping a four-game losing skid.

The Knicks affiliate club played at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut, as the Westchester County Center is currently being used as a COVID-19 vaccination site.

Knicks’ two-way player Luca Samanic was also impressive in his return from a heel injury. The Croatian forward scored 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as he and McBride teamed up as Westchester’s 1-2 punch combo.

McBride picked up the pace from the start pouring in nine points and four assists in the opening quarter. His seven-point outburst transformed a one-point deficit into a 25-22 lead, which the Knicks never relinquished.

“I love him, I love him,’’ Thibodeau said of McBride before his Knicks lost to Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden later in the night. “I think it’s important for him to be with us. But every opportunity we get where we can have him play some, we want to try to take advantage of that as well. But he’s got a great future, a great kid, hard worker. And when you come into this league, it’s all about — you’ve got to learn first. And that’s what he’s doing.”

Westchester led by as many as 17 before a spirited Long Island comeback trimmed the deficit to two points at the start of the third quarter.

A Samanic three-pointer off a McBride assist triggered a 10-2 salvo that restored order for the Knicks. McBride punctuated the run with a thunderous dunk as the Knicks grabbed a 72-62 lead with 8:55 left in the third quarter.

“It’s just day-to-day,’’ Thibodeau said. “When we have an opportunity to send him, we’ll send him. I love the proximity of it where it’s right there, and it’s in our building. So I think it’s important for him to be with us in practice and games. But anytime we have a situation where he can do both. Ideally, that’s what we would like to have.

“There will be some [days] where he goes back and forth. I love who he is. He’s a big part of practice every day for us.”

McBride played 41 minutes and only committed three turnovers. He shot 10 of 24 from the field.

Samanic, a waiver pickup after San Antonio Spurs dumped him, played 32 minutes in his return. He added two assists and made 12 of 23 shots.

Aamir Simms backstopped Westchester’s 1-2 punch combo with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Westchester’s next game will be on Nov. 23, a rematch against the Nets at home. It is unclear if McBride will see action again as the Knicks will also host the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden on the same night.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

Obi Toppin says Knicks rookies are showing why they should play next season

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The New York Knicks have upgraded their roster via free agency while maintaining their depth to build on the momentum of their first playoff appearance since 2013.

The Knicks went into the NBA Summer League with a primary focus on Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley’s development as leaders, and they are getting more than what they bargained.

Toppin and Quickley have been balling out in their first NBA Summer League after the event was scratched last year due to the pandemic. The Knicks’ sophomores have been included in The Athletic’s NBA Draft analyst Sam Vecenie’s ‘Too Good for Summer League Team,’ while their rookies have shown plenty of promise.

“It’s been great being out there with those guys, leading those guys, and pushing those guys. Everybody on that team has a heart and loves the hustle. When you’re playing with a bunch of dogs, then your team is fun,” Toppin said after the Knicks chalked up their third win in five Summer League games last Saturday.

In a true Tom Thibodeau fashion, Toppin (36.5 minutes) and Quickley (34.5 minutes) lead the NBA Summer League in playing time. Knicks Summer League coach Daisuke “Dice” Yoshimoto has referred to them as leaders of this team.

Toppin has been productive, averaging 23.0 points (no. 4 in scoring), 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks while shooting 46 percent from the floor and making 2.2 3s per game.

“Obi put in a lot of time over the summer. And it showed. He’s gonna continue to get better, put time in, and the result will gonna take care of itself,” Yoshimoto said. “This is his chance to showcase who he is. He’s gonna continue to put his time in, work hard, and build the right habits.”

The biggest takeaway here is Toppin can produce when used right. Toppin was able to show his potential as a rim runner, roll man, and pick and pop big man as opposed to his ill-fitted role last season as a floor-spacing big man just waiting in the corner.

On the other hand, Quickley, despite his shaky shooting (38 percent overall, 25 percent from 3) in Las Vegas, has made great strides as a lead guard with his 8.0 assists ranking third behind traditional point guards — Atlanta rookie Sharife Cooper (9.0) and Boston’s sophomore Payton Pritchard (8.7). Quickley also averages 21.8 points (no. 7) to go with 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals.

Their rookies Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, Jericho Sims, and their pick-and-stash Rokas Jokubaitis, who left for Spain, have followed their lead.

“All those guys are doing great. Quick (Quickley) has been doing a great job with Deuce (McBride) and Quentin (Grimes). Jericho (Sims) has been doing a great job listening to all of us and doing his part. Every rookie on [our] team is doing good, and they’re showing Thibs why they should be on the court next season,” Toppin said.

Heeding the advice of Allan Houston and Penny Hardaway, Grimes finally looked like the 3-and-D guy the Knicks have drafted in their last two games, scoring 15 and 28 points, after groping for form in his first three games.

McBride has been stellar running the point in Quickley’s absence (due to a sore groin) against the Cleveland Cavaliers. McBride scored a personal Summer League-best 23 points on 9 of 14 shooting and handed out five assists while playing solid defense (four rebounds, two steals, and one blocked shot).

Through five games, McBride, the 36th pick overall, is averaging 14.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals with a 50/46/88 shooting split.

Sims has made his first 10 field goals and is leading the Summer League in field goal percentage (88.2 percent) among players who have played at least three games and attempted at least four field goals per game. In four games, Sims has put up 8.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 1.0 blocks.

“They are gonna continue to put their time in and get better. Let’s see where they are at training camp,” Yoshimoto said.

Toppin attributed their great on-court chemistry to the culture they had been building in New York since Thibodeau’s arrival last year.

“I feel like just the brotherhood we’ve built. Everybody on our team is very close. We hang out with each other every single day. And we love to compete. Every time we step on that floor, we give it our 110 percent every game, and we’ve got to continue doing that for the season,” Toppin said.

The Knicks will close out their Summer League play against the Atlanta Hawks at 7 p.m. Monday. Toppin and the Knicks are raring to come out with a bang.

“I think one thing we need to focus on is just lock in defensively — having our best defensive game and just having fun out there,” Toppin said. “So, it’s gonna be our last Summer League game, and we need to make a statement going into the new season.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks: Inside Miles McBride’s ‘stay ready’ mentality

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With the game hanging in the balance, Immanuel Quickley attacked the basket but lost his balance. 

Luckily for the New York Knicks, Quickley’s pass, despite getting slightly deflected, went into the hottest hands of the night.

Knicks rookie Miles McBride drilled in his sixth three-pointer just before the shot clock buzzer to give the Knicks a five-point breather, 85-80, with 1:20 left.

Quickley and McBride scored the Knicks’ final 22 points to wrap up their second win in the NBA Summer League — a 91-82 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Nevada.

McBride scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half, including 14 in the final quarter, in what should go down as his signature game in this year’s NBA Summer League. He was brilliant on the offensive end — a perfect six for six from deep and 7 of 9 overall while handing out five assists.

“Honestly, it’s just about staying ready so you don’t have to get ready,” McBride told Cassidy Hubbarth after the game. “I mean, the ball is gonna find me. I just have to make open shots. That’s what I do. I’ve trusted (Immanuel) Quickley to make the right reads so I’m just gonna stay ready.”

McBride’s unbridled confidence comes from preparation — a Tom Thibodeau tenet. It’s no wonder why Thibodeau reportedly pushed for him in the NBA Draft.

“Obviously, he’s a very good player. He’s putting a lot of time in the gym and it showed today,” Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yoshimoto said. “You could tell he shot very well in college and he’s gonna continue to put his time in and he’s gonna continue to keep getting better. That’s who he is.”

It’s in McBride’s DNA growing up in a competitive household.

His father, Walter McBride, was a standout at Xavier in the 1980s before playing overseas basketball while his mother, Kim, lettered in tennis at Ohio State. His brother, Trey, played college ball at Northwood and is now playing overseas while his sister, Kristen, plays volleyball in West Virginia.

McBride has been killing it in the Summer League not only from the outside but also from the midrange.

Through three games, McBride is averaging 15.0 points in 26.4 minutes per game. His shooting splits of 63/62/88 have been oustanding.

“He’s gonna continue to shoot the right ones. If he’s open, I keep telling him to shoot it. If not, move it. Make the game simple. And that’s what he did today,” Yoshimoto said.

It looked simple but McBride went through a complex process trying to perfect his craft. It started at home where charity always begins.

“Honestly, my dad played back when there was no three-point line so it’s nothing but midrange. So he’s always been the guy who really taught me, just pass it down to me and my brother. A lot of time in the backyard, you know, until the street lights are coming on. We’re out there in the park, in our backyard just shooting midrange shots,” McBride revealed.

The unseen hours have made McBride confident with his shot. From the backyard, to park, to school, to film room, and the NBA court, McBride always leans on his competitive edge to learn and grow.

“It’s just about taking shots in the flow of the game. In the first game, I kinda rushed a lot of shots. I just went back to watch the film with the coaches and try to understand the game more and just find where the best shots are gonna come from. That’s what I felt I did today,” McBride said.

His shot was also inspired, in part, by his new teammate and future backcourt mentor Kemba Walker.

“He’s a killer from the midrange and I feel like that’s one of the things I’m very good at as well so, I’ve watched a lot of Kemba films,” McBride said.

He was excited when he heard the news of Walker coming home to New York even if that meant less chances for him to earn minutes on the floor in his rookie year.

“I was really excited. I mean, you got to play with guys like Kemba, Julius (Randle), Derrick Rose. Those are the guys I grew up watching. To get to be alongside them is a dream come true,” he said.

While his shot and playmaking had inspired excitement, it’s his defense that he thinks would be his ticket to playing time under Thibodeau.

“This is a league about creating opportunities. I feel like one of my strengths is defense so, that’s the best way I can create opportunities for myself,” McBride said.

McBride was equally impressive on the defensive end against the Lakers. His seven rebounds and one steal didn’t do justice to how he defended well. He picked up opposing guards full court and contested shots.

His competitive fire was lit up by nine-time All-Defensive Team and the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year Gary Payton.

“We’re definitely going through a lot of rookie transition stuff, and Gary Payton was talking like, you know, obviously, he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s the best [guard] defender probably to have ever played in the league. So he was talking line nobody can pick up the full court, so I want to come out here and show him I could do that,” McBride said.

McBride is as good as advertised — the 3-and-D guard prospect that the Knicks were lucky to have stolen in the second round.

In these summer league games, the Knicks have experimented playing him off the ball alongside Quickley, and the proof is in the pudding.

“It starts with his defensive tenacity first. [Deuce] can defend multiple positions. He can play on the ball. He can play off the ball on the defensive end,” Yoshimoto said of the versatile rookie guard.

But his path to rotation minutes in the regular season is unclear.

Tony Coleman, a freelance NBA scout, has seen all the Knicks games in the Summer League, and he came away impressed with McBride. However, with the Knicks backcourt depth, he has tempered expectations on McBride breaking out in his rookie year.

“[Deuce] is very talented, athletic, good shooter from 3. He passes well, good on-ball defender. Overall, he’s well rounded and a good value pick,” Coleman told Empire Sports Media. “However, playing time is going to be another story. With Quickley, Kemba, Rose in the fold, when will Deuce get any minutes? We’ll have to see how things play out.”

With NBA returning to its 82-regular season calendar, Coleman believes McBride will carve out a role at some point especially given the health risks attached to Walker and Rose. And his Summer League play showed his versatility.

“I really like Deuce a lot. To be able to shoot the ball the way he can, he could also be used as a spot-up deep threat on the perimeter. Those moments both he and Quickley were in the games together, that particular scenario actually happened here in summer league play. Knicks have some decisions to make,” Coleman said.

McBride is showing a total package in the Summer League. He can catch and shoot, pull up, and create off the dribble. But it’s his defense that will be his calling card.

“Defensive energy, I mean, that’s where I get my offensive game going. It’s all about want. Get after guys,” McBride said.

With a body built like a tank, McBride was a double varsity until he broke his leg during his junior year in high school. He focused on basketball, but his quarterback experience had made him a better playmaker seeing the floor like the football field. On top of that vision, football also made him tough.

That’s why when he was picking where to go in college, he was drawn to West Virginia. He fell in love with coach Bob Huggins trademark “Press Virginia” — a smothering pressure defense.

“That’s one of the main reasons why I played for coach [Bob] Huggins is to play defense and learn more from him. I feel like it’s just a lot about of want — just having that mentality that I want to play to play defense, I want to stop guys from scoring instead of you know [playing like] it’s just part of the game, and I’m just out there to play,” McBride said.

For McBride, that shot clock beating three-pointer in the clutch came a long way. He was always ready to take that big shot because of his long, tedious preparation that started in their backyard. Him becoming a Knick to play behind one of his idols, Kemba Walker, to play under Thibodeau, who is as competitive and tough-minded as his father and Huggins, is a dream come true.

“Honestly, it’s been a long journey, hard work, and dedication, so, signing with the Knicks, I’m more than happy,” McBride said.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo