Fantastic Four: Tom Thibodeau lists most conditioned Knicks

Run, Knicks, run!

That’s how Tom Thibodeau plans to roll out his young and athletic New York Knicks beginning in the preseason.

The Knicks will face the Detroit Pistons on the road Friday at 7 p.m. E.T.

“I would assume that’s the plan. Every day we do a lot of transition drills, guys getting up and down. Everybody work super hard to get into shape to play that way. That’s the plan, so let’s see if we can execute tomorrow,” Dennis Smith Jr. said on zoom call Thursday after the Knicks wrapped up their short training camp.

The Knicks were tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic for 23rd place in pace at 100.9 last season. The Milwaukee Bucks led the league at 107.2.

Thibodeau never cracked the top-15 during his two seasons with a young Minnesota team. But to his defense, he surrounded Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins with veterans and played to their strengths, especially when Jimmy Butler came aboard.

This Knicks team is far different than what he had in Minnesota. So he’s playing the hand that has been dealt to him.

Tough cookies, fit rookies

To be able to sustain an up-tempo game, they need to be in their best shape. Thibodeau was pleased, especially with four players who showed up for the training camp fit and ready to go.

“Our two young guys, obviously they have a lot to learn, but in terms of commitment and conditioning, they’re really, really impressive,” said Thibodeau referring to his rookies Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley.

Both rookies benefited from the extended period of preparation for the Draft and the short turnaround time.

Toppin and Quickley will have their first taste of NBA action Friday night as they will mix it up against fellow rookies Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart of Detroit.

For them, this amounts to their summer league.

“I didn’t think the speed of the game would be too much faster, but it’s actually been a lot faster,” Quickley said. “I feel like Kentucky, they do a great job of preparing, but until you get out there and experience a full practice and going up and down really fast, there’s really nothing like it. I think the speed of the game has been the biggest jump, and I feel like I’m making a great jump. Every single day I feel like I’m getting better.”

Quickley could be in for a rude awakening on Friday when he and Toppin will experience the intensity, albeit watered down, of a real NBA game.

It will be a good gauge for both Thibodeau and Pistons coach Dwayne Casey on how their rookies and newcomers will fit into what they’re trying to do.

“The college game is very different from the NBA game. So there’s an adjustment period that you go through,” Thibodeau said.

There will be rookie jitters for sure. But Toppin and Quickley have sounded confident throughout the camp. The Knicks fans are anxious to watch them walk the talk.

Big bets on vets

It will be exactly nine months since the Knicks last played an NBA game. Among the holdovers and veterans, two Knicks have impressed Thibodeau with their conditioning.

“I would say the vets who stood out the most were actually two – I would say, Julius, who’s in great shape, and Kevin Knox is in really good shape as well,” Thibodeau said.

Both forwards have chips on their shoulders. Randle will be in his second season with the team, hoping to become a better leader. Knox, meanwhile, is aching to bounce back after a lackluster sophomore season.

Despite being the most conditioned Knicks, they will not necessarily garner the most minutes. Thibodeau will use the preseason games to experiment on different combinations for his regular-season rotations.

“We’ve been mixing and matching, and we’re still evaluating. I’m gonna meet with the coaches,” Thibodeau said.

“Obviously, there will be a larger rotation in this first game. But we’ll use it for preseason games and probably some games into the regular season as well before we settle in for our final rotation.”

While the Knicks rotation will be unpredictable, one thing is sure.

Run, Knicks, run!

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Brooklyn Nets: New Year, New Nets

Brooklyn Nets, Kenny Atkinson

It’s not the regular season, but Brooklyn Nets basketball has made a return. So when Nets fans saw that their team would be playing on October 4th, they didn’t care that it wasn’t against another NBA team. They were just happy to see that their team play on their home court again (the new court looks great by the way). So here are some thoughts from the Nets home win against Sesi Franca (137-89).

The Starting Lineup

The Nets opened up the preseason with a starting lineup of the following:

Center: Jarrett Allen

PF: Rodions Kurucs

SF: Taurean Prince

SG: Caris Levert

PG: Spencer Dinwiddie

When asked if people should read into the Jarrett Allen start, Kenny Atkinson responded with not at all and that the team was trying out various rotations. So with that being understood, we still aren’t 100% sure whether or not Jarrett Allen will be the for sure starter. Seeing Kurucs out there on the floor, especially in a starters capacity, put me at ease. With the off the court issues, he has come into his second year, it’s good to see him just playing basketball. He got the start at the 4, the position he found himself in his rookie campaign. Prince closed out the frontcourt starters.

Levert and Dinwiddie were our starting backcourt. This is a line up that is pretty familiar with each other with the exception of Prince. Allen, Spence, and Caris have played with each other for a few years now while Kurucs started next to Allen for much of last season. In this lineup, Prince would basically be taking the Joe Harris.

Speaking of Joe Harris, he was not in the starting line up. In fact, he did not log a single minute. This is probably to rest the NBA’s best shooter from 3 last year. He played almost all of last season, the intense playoffs, and was on Team USA this summer. Rest is probably for the best, got to keep a shooter’s legs fresh.

Obviously, the team isn’t completely healthy or available. Kyrie Irving didn’t play this game, but will most likely play next week Thursday. Kevin Durant isn’t stepping on that court anytime soon. There’s no question that Spencer Dinwiddie will probably be headed to the bench with the return of Kyrie Irving. The real question is will Joe Harris start? If he does who sits, Kurucs or Prince. If I had to guess, I’d predict that Prince will join the second unit. Just for the sake of familiarity and continuity. It also gives the bench that lethal floor spacer (as you saw against Sesi if you happened to watch the game).

Quick Notes

-Quick notes. David Nwaba shot well from three which wasn’t exactly the strength of his game. That along with his constant movement on offense and defense are welcomed sights. Honestly, he probably had the highest motor on the floor. Cuts were hard and fast. Constant movement on the floor to get himself and shot or be a bailout option. He made the extra pass willingly and consistently. It also showed a determination on defense, even on players that dwarfed him. Maybe him seeing some time at the 4 isn’t a complete joke.

-Prince shooting is as his stats from the last two seasons have advertised. He is a true snipe, shooting 67% from out beyond.

-The team has looked to feed the paint, although not through the post. Lots of lobs, drives, and drop-offs. The bigs ate often with them shooting a combined  14/15 shooting from the floor.

-Levert’s vision and playmaking were on full display. With that being one of the positives of his game, I predict he’ll spend some time at the point with Kyrie and Spencer being the only two point guards on the team.

-The new rook Nic Claxton looked great. Full of energy on both ends of the court. It’ll be fun to see how he develops.

-Theo, who has spoken on possibly spending some of his court time as a floor general, had 7 assists.

Early Concerns

If you watched, you saw the greatest shooter to ever light the Nets up early and often. Hettheimeir shot a blazing 8/10 from the arch. I’m counting that more so to a hot hand vs panicking from stretch big defense. Perimeter defense concerning Jarrett Allen, especially if he has to pick up guards in the pick n roll. Deandre Jordan defends it more comfortably.

FREE THROW ACE PURPLE IS A NEED! Ok ok, you’re right. It’s just one game. It is preseason after all. Oh and we’re missing some of our best offensive players. Players that shoot well from the line. Well, I’d concede all those points, but then also warn with this. The Nets did get 35 chances from the line last night. That is great. But only 20 of those 35 were made. That’s a putrid 57%. That’s terrible. Last year, the Nets were also in the bottom third of free throws in the NBA. Only six teams shot worse than the Nets, who shot 74.5% from the stripe.

A big part of everything that allows the Nets offense to function is the threat of and the ability to hit the three-ball. Although for a team to shoot 35.7% from three is decent (would be top 10 in the NBA last season), there were only three Nets that night to shoot it decent or exceptionally. That would be Nwaba, Kurucs, and Prince. Together they shot 10/18 from beyond, roughly 56%. The rest of the team was 5/24, below 21%. Again, it’s preseason and only one game where we are devoid of some of our best shooters, but just something I noticed.

But it is early. I cannot stress that enough. Let’s see what these early thoughts mature into as the season progresses.

New York Knicks: Daymean Dotson out all preseason

New York Knicks, Damyean Dotson

The New York Knicks will be without the services of Daymean Dotson for the entire pre-season.  Dotson is still recovering from right shoulder surgery earlier this year.

It is also up-in-the-air if Dotson will be ready for the beginning of the season.  Dotson is still not able to participate in contract drills for an unknown timetable.

This comes as a big blow to the Knicks shooting guards.  The Knicks do not have a true healthy shooting guard on the roster at this point, with Dotson out.  Maybe Allonzo Trier?

If healthy, Dotson could have been a serious candidate to start this season.  Unfortunately, that is not the case now.

Dotson is one of the Knicks top two-way players.  He has showed that given the opportunity he can score while also providing good defense for 94 feet.

With Dotson most likely not going to start, due to his injury, the shooting guard or two position is up for grabs.

With his performance in the FIBA World Cup, this could be the opportunity that Frank Ntilikina needs.  Ntilikina should be given a chance regardless.  Rookie RJ Barrett could step into the starting role depending on how he performs in training camp, but most likely he will start on the bench.

Trier will put up a fight for the two position along with Wayne Ellington.  Trier would get the nod as long as his defense improves as Ellington is more of a 3-point specialist.

There will be a lot of battles for certain starting positions.  Dotson not being fully ready-to-go opens the door for others to capture the moment.  Nothing is set in stone, according to coach David Fizdale.  The starting line-ups will be juggled a lot at the beginning of the season until Fizdale finds what works best for the Knicks.

New York Knicks preseason schedule

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks preseason schedule has dropped.  The Knicks will have 4 tune-up games before the season kicks off.

The Knicks preseason schedule is has follows:

October 7th at Wizards

October 11th vs. Wizards

October 16th vs. Hawks

October 18th vs. Pelicans

The Knicks will play the teams it seems like they have played every preseason.  However, similar to the Vegas summer league, all eyes will be on the Knicks & Pelicans for the finale of the preseason.

RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson will get another go at each other before they officially begin their NBA careers.  Williamson got the better of RJ in their first meeting, but Barrett got better each game.  The two should have a better, fun and longer showing this time around.

The Knicks will be looking to show their fans a better team effort and togetherness after a poor summer league showing.  They were the favorites to win the summer league and fell way short.  However, they did not have a lot of time to play with each other and get comfortable.

Expect the Knicks to look completely different in the preseason and have a better, more positive outlook for the 2019-2020 season.