Too Quick, Too Hot: Quickley lifts Knicks past Pacers in NBA Summer League

immanuel quickley, knicks

After a jittery start to his first NBA Summer League, Immanuel Quickley got the perfect advice from New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau.

“Just be yourself,” Quickley revealed.

And he looked like the Quickley that the Knicks have stolen with the 25th pick in last year’s NBA draft and was named to the All-Rookie NBA Team.

After a brutal 5-for-17 shooting in the Knicks’ 89-79 loss to the Toronto Raptors Sunday, Quickley bounced back strong with a game-high 32 points built around 11-of-21 field goals.

He was perfect six-for-six from the line and added eight assists against a single turnover. The guard out of Kentucky also had two steals in a solid game on both ends of the floor.

“Last game, I was kinda trying to find my way and get everybody involved,” Quickley said. “In this game, I’m kinda trying to do both but just a little bit more aggressive, help my teammates and be more of a leader.”

Quickley did much of the damage in the second half, dropping 23 points and six assists where the Knicks outscored the Pacers by 11 points.

Obi Toppin, who fed off Quickley’s point guard play, had another strong outing with 22 points and nine rebounds but had five turnovers.

Toppin started the game aggressively but a little bit out of control. He committed four of the Knicks’ 10 turnovers in the first quarter and missed three baskets around the rim, including a flubbed dunk in his first attempt. But once he got settled and played in the flow of things, the sophomore forward was a wrecking ball.

Two days after the Knicks lost to Atlanta Hawks in the first round, Quickley and Toppin were reportedly back in the gym.

“That’s what the Knicks culture is — working hard, enjoying the work, and getting better,” Quickley said. “We’re really excited for the Summer League team. We’re really excited for the next season. We just want to continue to get better and take the steps to move forward.”

The Knicks have prioritized getting Quickley more reps as a point guard in his first Summer League play. So far, the 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio had been impressive. He said he’s looking forward to soaking in more lessons from Derrick Rose and the newly acquired Kemba Walker.

Meanwhile, fan-favorite Jericho Sims stayed perfect in the NBA Summer League with an eight-point, nine-rebound effort. He was 4-for-4 from the field after going 6-for-6 in his debut. Sims, who signed a two-way deal reportedly for two years per Keith Smith of Spotrac, has been a revelation.

“He played phenomenal running the floor and catching lobs in traffic,” freelance NBA scout Tony Coleman told Empire Sports Media. “He’s playing solid defense on the other side of the ball. He’s definitely a steal in my humble opinion.”

Coleman is in Las Vegas for his scouting trip.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis, the Knicks’ 36th pick, finally made his Knicks debut contributing three points and one assist in nine minutes.

Jokubaitis, a healthy DNP in the Knicks’ first game, was given more run this time than Luca Vildoza. Knicks Summer League coach Dice Yoshimoto even experimented with a three-guard lineup featuring Jokubaitis, Miles McBride, and Vildoza, who went scoreless in four minutes but managed to grab a rebound and one steal.

The Knicks’ first-round pick, Quentin Grimes, had another rough shooting game with six points on 2-for-10 shooting in almost 35 minutes. Matched against NBA Draft Day target Chris Duarte, Grimes committed five fouls. Duarte had a solid debut filling up the stats sheet with 14 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two shot blocks. The 24-year old Duarte played with so much poise and shot 4-of-8 from the field, including 3-for-7 from deep.

The Knicks’ other second-round pick, McBride, put an exclamation point to their win and his impressive game with a dunk.

With Thibodeau in attendance, McBride showed the toughness and tenacity that made the Knicks coach fall in love with his game. He scattered 14 points (5-of-7 from the field), three rebounds, one assist, and one steal.

On Wednesday, the Knicks will return to action against the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 pm ET on ESPN2.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo 

Kevin Knox returns to NBA Summer League to lead Knicks

In 2018, NBA Summer League stud Kevin Knox was heralded as a future NBA star.

Three years later, Knox will return to Las Vegas not as a star but as a broken player.

Ian Begley of SNY reported that Knox asked the New York Knicks to include him on their Summer League roster.

He wants to play and repair his shattered confidence after bottoming out last season.

Knox will be the longest-tenured player in the Knicks’ Summer League roster and will be playing for the third time in the last four years. There was no NBA Summer League last year due to the pandemic.

In the 2019-20 Summer League, Knox averaged 16.8 points per game after making it to the All-NBA Summer League First Team in 2018, where he posted eye-popping numbers: 21.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists over four games.

Joining Knox in the squad are incoming sophomores Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin, who jumped ahead of him in the rotation last season. Rookies Luca Vildoza, Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, pick-and-stash Rokas Jokubaitis, and Jericho Sims will also make their Knicks debut.

The 20-year old Jokubaitis agreed to play for the Knicks this summer, but he’s expected to return to Europe to play for Barcelona next year.

Meanwhile, Vildoza’s arrival in Las Vegas is contingent on Argentina’s quarterfinal game against Australia Tuesday in the Tokyo Olympics.

If Argentina wins, Vildoza will have to stay in Tokyo until the medal round on Saturday. If they flame out, Vidoza will fly out Wednesday to rejoin the Knicks.

The NBA Summer League opens on Sunday with the Knicks scheduled to play the Toronto Raptors.

Rounding up the roster are NBA free agents trying out for Training Camp spots: Justin Patton, Reid Travis, Wayne Selden, Quinton Rose, MJ Walker, Tyler Hall, and Aamir Sims.

Here’s the Knicks’ NBA Summer League broadcast schedule (all in Eastern Time):

Aug. 8 vs. Raptors 4:30 pm ESPN2

Aug. 11 vs. Lakers 10 pm ESPN2

Aug. 13 vs. Pistons 8 pm NBA TV

Aug. 14 vs. Cavs 8 pm NBA TV

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks guard Luca Vildoza helps Argentina march to Olympics quarterfinals

The New York Knicks have to wait a little longer for Luca Vildoza after Argentina punched a ticket to the knockout round of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Vildoza scored all of his seven points in the opening half, where Argentina established control en route to a 97-77 victory over host Japan Sunday (early Monday US time).

The Japanese were able to cut the deficit to four in the early moments of the third quarter. But the Argentines answered with an 11-2 run for a 57-44 advantage, and they were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

Luis Scola led four Argentines in double figures with 23 points.

Vildoza added four assists, two rebounds, and a steal in 26 minutes off the bench. He was 2 for 3 in the first half but missed his next three shots in the final two quarters, all from behind the arc.

Vildoza averaged 7.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals but only shot 35 percent from the field, and he’s only hit 2 of his total 12 three-point attempts in 3 games in the group stage.

Argentina claimed one of the quarterfinals berths in the Olympics as the best third-placed team despite its 1-2 record. They had the best plus/minus (-6) among the three third placers in the group stage. Germany and the Czech Republic also finished with identical 1-2 records in their respective groups. But Germany had a superior plus/minus (-16) over Czech Republic (-49) to complete the quarterfinal cast.

France, Team USA, Slovenia, Spain, Australia, and Italy have earlier claimed their quarterfinal tickets as the top two teams in their respective groups.

The quarterfinals will be played on Tuesday, with the matchups to be drawn on Monday.

If Argentina wins on Tuesday, Vildoza will have to extend his stay in Tokyo until Saturday. The Knicks will open their NBA Summer League campaign on Sunday in Las Vegas.

If Argentina bows out in the quarterfinals, Vildoza can fly back to the US on Wednesday to rejoin the Knicks Summer League squad bannered by Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and their NBA Draft picks Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and Jericho Sims.

Vildoza signed a partially guaranteed four-year, $13.6 million deal last May and will have to impress the Knicks for a guaranteed spot next season.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks: Luca Vildoza likely to play in Summer League as Argentina nears elimination

knicks, luca vildoza

As Argentina’s Olympic medal hopes fade, the chances of Luca Vildoza getting summer reps with the New York Knicks are increasing.

Argentina dropped its second straight game — an 81-71 loss to Spain on Thursday in a rematch of the 2019 FIBA  World Cup Finals.

The loss put the Argentines in a precarious situation. They have to win big against host Japan in their final group stage game and hope they end up with one of the top two third-place records.

Vildoza didn’t start against Spain but played the bulk of his minutes in the second half.

The 25-year old Vildoza finished with five points in 16 minutes as Denver Nuggets’ point guard Facundo Campazzo’s backup. He struggled from the field (2 of 6), missing five of his six three-point attempts. But he added two rebounds and two assists, including a nice pick and roll action with the ageless Luis Scola that ended with an open three-pointer cutting Spain’s lead to a single-digit.

Vildoza had 11 points, five assists, three rebounds, and three steals in Argentina’s opening loss to Slovenia. In two Olympic games thus far, he averages 8.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals. But he’s only shooting 35.7 percent from the field and, worse, only hit 1 of 8 three-pointers so far.

Argentina plays Japan on Sunday, and a loss would automatically eliminate them from contention, giving Vildoza a whole week before making his debut with the Knicks in the NBA Summer League. The Knicks will open their Summer League campaign against the Toronto Raptors on Aug. 8 (See the full Knicks schedule here).

The Knicks will use the Summer League games and the training camp to evaluate Vildoza’s play and fit with their roster before they guarantee his salary next season. Vildoza signed a partially guaranteed four-year, $13.6 million deal last May.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

Knicks open NBA Summer League against Raptors

The New York Knicks will showcase their young core in the 16th MGM Resorts NBA Summer League set to tip-off on August 8 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The NBA announced Wednesday that all of the 75 NBA Summer League games would air live on television on ESPN networks or NBA TV. Every game will also be available to stream on the ESPN App.

Barring any trades, the Knicks’ Summer League core will feature Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Kevin Knox, and newly-signed guard Luca Vildoza from Argentina and their draft picks. RJ Barrett could join them unless the Knicks hold him back to avoid injury. Former Kentucky big man Reid Travis, who went undrafted in 2019, will join the squad. Other free agents trying out for training camp spots will round up the team.

It will be the first NBA Summer League for Quickley and Toppin, as the league didn’t hold one last year due to the pandemic.

There is a big chance Vildoza can make it back to Las Vegas in time for the opening tip against the Toronto Raptors on August 8, as Argentina is in limbo in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Argentina lost its Olympics opener to Luka Doncic and Slovenia, 1118-110, where Vildoza scattered 11 points on 3-of-8 field goals, five assists, three rebounds, and three steals in 23 minutes of play.

As it stands, Argentina must win its next two games against Spain and host Japan to advance to the quarterfinals. If the Argentinians split their remaining two games, they have to end up as the top two third-place finishers among all groups. The quarterfinals will be played on August 3, followed by the semifinals two days later and medal matches on August 7.

Here’s the Knicks’ NBA Summer League broadcast schedule (all in Eastern Time):

Aug. 8 vs. Raptors 4:30 pm ESPN2

Aug. 11 vs. Lakers 10 pm ESPN2

Aug. 13 vs. Pistons 8 pm NBA TV

Aug. 14 vs. Cavs 8 pm NBA TV

Should the Knicks advance, they will play at least an additional game in the knockout-style playoffs on August 16. The NBA Summer League Finals will be played on August 17.

Fans who want to watch the games live can purchase tickets by visiting NBAEvents.com.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

WATCH: How Knicks guard Luca Vildoza fared against Team USA

luca vildoza, knicks

There was so much anticipation among the New York Knicks fan base.

Newly-signed guard Luca Vildoza arrived in the U.S. with much fanfare but will exit with a mixed bag of performance, including a sporadic electric game against Team USA.

Argentina got pummelled, 108-80, in their final pre-Olympics tuneup game Tuesday in Las Vegas, but the Knicks fans couldn’t care less about the final score.

All eyes were on Vildoza on how he measures up against elite NBA competition.

Vildoza came off the bench to spread nine points, all coming from beyond the arc, and he added three boards, two assists, one steal, and a block in his most complete performance in three exhibition games.

But there were moments when he looked overwhelmed.

Bam Adebayo blocked his shot. Draymond Green picked up his pocket. Kevin Durant shot over him.

But there were moments too when he looked he truly belonged, especially when he danced around Darius Garland before hitting a tough, in-your-face three-pointer.

Vildoza shot 3-of-8 from the field in 23 minutes. In three games, he shot 9-of-24 or just 37.5 percent from the field. Almost exclusively, his made baskets came behind the shorter FIBA three-point distance. He shot much better from that zone with a 42-percent (8-19) clip.

Overall, the Argentine combo guard averaged 9.3 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists in 20 minutes with a 37.5/42/100 shooting split.

“I got to get better,’’ Vildoza told The New York Post during the postgame press conference. “I’m shooting too much 3’s without a reason, without thinking too much. I know I can get better on defense especially.”

Vildoza signed a partially guaranteed four-year, $13.6 million deal with the Knicks after averaging 10.1 points, 3.5 assists with Baskonia in the Euroleague last season while hitting 38 percent from long-distance.

“I’ve [been] doing this last two, three years in Europe and I know I can do it here,” said Vildoza. “Today was a test for me against the best players in the world. I felt really good against them, but we lost by 30, and I got to get better. I got work to do.’’

Vildoza and the world’s no. 4 Argentina have their work cut out for them. Except for the close call against Australia, they looked overmatched against Nigeria and Team USA.

“We played bad, we weren’t prepared for this game. They were switching everything. We are a pick and roll team and they defended that. It’s tough but we got time,” Vildoza said.

They better hurry.

If they can’t pull their acts together, their chances are slim to play in the medal round. That will be bad news for Argentina. But good news to the Knicks as Vildoza can fly back to Las Vegas earlier to play in the NBA Summer League.

Argentina is grouped with host Japan led by NBA players Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe, Luka Doncic’s Slovenia, and world’s no. 2 Spain. Vildoza and the Argentinians need to finish in the top two in their group to advance outright to the quarterfinals, or else, they hope they end up as one of the two best third-placers among the three groups to survive.

The quarterfinals will be played on August 3, while the semifinals and the gold medal match will take place on August 5 and 7. Meanwhile, the NBA Summer League will tip-off on August 8 in Las Vegas.

The Knicks are evaluating his performance this summer to guarantee his contract next season. Before he flew to Las Vegas for Argentina’s Olympic buildup, he spent time with the Knicks developmental coaching staff and met New York coach Tom Thibodeau.

“I’m really happy to be part of the historic team,’’ Vildoza said of the Knicks, who broke an eight-year playoff drought this season. “I’ve been saying this for the last two months. For me, it’s a dream since I was a child. I was dreaming of this day. When I got there, coach [Thibodeau] was there. I’ve been talking to him — one of the best coaches in the league. It’s so special. This is my chance to get here and get through to my dream.’’

An Olympic medal and a slot in the Knicks roster next season is his ultimate goal this summer. But there’s more work to do to get there.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @laderalmo

Knicks expected to showcase young core in NBA Summer League return

Imagine Obi Toppin slamming an alley-oop pass from the New York Knicks’ new point guard prospect.

That could be a recurring highlight in August when the NBA Summer League makes its much-anticipated return.

Argentinian point guard Luca Vildoza and the duo of Immanuel Quickley and Toppin are expected to banner the Knicks in the NBA’s summer showcase that will feature the league’s draft picks and young prospects.

The 16th annual MGM Resorts NBA Summer League will take place Aug. 8-17 at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the league announced on Wednesday.

All 30 teams will play five games apiece during the 10-day, 75-game event. After every team plays four games, the two teams with the best records from the first four games will meet in the finals on Aug. 17.

It will be Quickley and Toppin’s first NBA Summer League after the event was scrapped last year due to the pandemic. On the other hand, Vildoza will be fresh from his stint with the Argentina national team in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo which will run from July 23 to Aug. 8.

The Summer League will give Tom Thibodeau’s staff time to further evaluate the 25-year old Vildoza before they fully guarantee his 2021-22 salary by the start of next season.

“There’s a whole process that [Luca’s] going to have to go through so it’s going to be more of a summer thing. He’s got to go through a number of things to get cleared. That’s going to take time. We’ll take it step by step,” Thibodeau earlier said.

Unless they are moved in a package for a superstar, Quickley and Toppin are expected to play heavy minutes for the Knicks in the Summer League to fast-track their development.

The team’s draft picks will also be included in their Summer League roster. But the Knicks are not expected to have four rookies. New York Post’s Marc Berman earlier reported that the team is looking to bundle some, if not all, of their picks (Nos. 19 and 21, Nos. 32 and 58) to move up in the top-heavy Draft.

“Normally the Summer League is a dry run for training camp,” Thibodeau said back in December. “So it gives the guys an idea of what training camp looks like.”

Tickets for the NBA Summer League will go on sale on June 23 and the complete game and broadcast schedules will be announced at a later date.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

One big takeaway from the New York Knicks Summer League

New York Knicks, James Dolan

The New York Knicks have played below average in the summer league thus far.  There have been positives, but more negatives three games in.

First off, summer league games should be taken with a grain of salt.  It is just a warm-up for the new guys and for fans to get their fix with more basketball.

However, one specific thing really stood out for the New York Knicks:

The biggest takeaway for the Knicks is that they are basically playing most of their starting lineup and lost their first two games. Again, it is the summer league, but it seems like a major red flag.

The Knicks started Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and RJ Barrett in all three games in the summer league.  Those three are all projected to start the season, along with Julius Randle and Dennis Smith Jr.

But, losing the first two games with a majority of our starting lineup is bad.  Yes, the Knicks won their third game against the Lakers, but the concern remains. There have been signs of progress and momentum, and hopefully, the starters can elevate their game and begin dominating.

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The team has not played together and need to get used to doing so, but when you are sending out second year players against rookies who are playing in their first professional games and losing, it is a cause for concern.

Could this mean that the Knicks are in for another long season or that they just need time to get accumulated?  To be honest, it is probably the latter.

How have the New York Knicks looked so far in the Summer League?

The New York Knicks are 0-2 in this year’s summer league. This is not the start fans were hoping for.  A lot of fans, especially from the Knicks, tend to overreact to these games. How a player performs is either criticized or over-hyped.

Most Knicks followers were very excited to see rookie RJ Barrett play and go head-to-head against his good friend Zion Williamson.  If you watched the game, Zion played better than RJ.  Fans were already overreacting.  We are here to say… relax.  It was Barrett’s first game as a Knick, he is young, 19, and he was most likely nervous.

Barrett is a natural scorer and playmaker.  Just because he had a bad shooting performance in his first two professional games does not mean that fans should panic.  Barrett is going to be just fine.

Kevin Knox kills the summer league but falters during the regular season.  Knox did the same thing last year and swept Knicks fans off their feet.  However, it did not seem to carry over into the season, as it was a roller coaster.  Fans got so excited for Knox that his first was underwhelming. But, he too is young.  Knox seemed to have a better more fluid shot, especially in the first game against the Pelicans. Let’s hope that he brings that shot into the regular season.

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Mitchell Robinson has been a force down-low.  His defense has been good and he continues to be a blocking stud.  Robinson is only going to get better each game, so no need to worry about him. Maintaining his health will be a priority, though.

Ignas Brazdeikis appears to be another second-round steal for the Knicks. But again, it is the summer league and yes, he did go off against Phoenix, but the Knicks might have found another gem. Iggy was stroking it from all over.  He was aggressive and not afraid to take his shot. Brazdeikis needs to bring that fire every day and he can be a very good role player.

Despite being 0-2, the Knicks are still in a good position. It will take time for Barrett to get comfortable and that is when he will flourish.  Overall, the summer league does not mean much.  It is just an opportunity to see the potential up-and-coming players for one’s team and get us talking.  Do not overreact and just enjoy basketball being back.

New York Knicks Summer League

The New York Knicks open up their NBA Summer League with a bang.  The newest New York Knick, RJ Barrett, will face off against his former teammate/roommate Zion Williamson, now a New Orleans Pelican.

The first game, against the Pelicans, is on ESPN on Friday July 5th at 9:30 p.m. EST.  The Knicks have three games following the first matchup of RJ & Zion. Sunday, July 7th against the Phoenix Suns.  Tuesday, July 9th against the defending champion Toronto Raptors.  Then their finale against the Los Angeles Lakers.  All games are at 9:30 p.m. EST.

The faithful Knick fans will see the draft pick that pretty much everyone cheered for. Barrett is ready for New York and so are the fans.  He may even be as loved as Zion is, well at least with New York fans.

Barrett does have a lot of pressure on him, but he is embracing that.  Kevin Knox had the same last year when he was selected 9th overall.  Knox had a very strong summer league, but a sub-par season.

Barrett will be a different story.  He was the number one player out of high school and in college, until Zion happened.  Barrett will be able to come to New York, be a plug-in, starter and produce.  He wants to be in New York and ready for whatever.  The Knicks organization and fans expect big things from RJ.