New York Knicks: 3 Observations from Saturday's Preseason Game
The Knicks opened up their preseason schedule today against the Nets with a 92-83 victory at Prudential Center. New York forced 25 New Jersey turnovers as new addition Tyson Chandler had both of the team's blocked shots and added three steals.
Other than a solid performance on the defensive end, there are a few other things that stood out about the Knicks' performance today.
Iman Shumpert Is a Better Shooter Than We Thought
We all knew Iman Shumpert could play defense and the rookie from Georgia Tech showed that ability in the first half, using his long arms to slap the ball away from Deron Williams and take it coast to coast for an easy layup. The 17th overall pick also looked good shooting the basketball, touching nothing but the net on a few long jump shots early in the game.
The Knicks will need Shumpert to play 20-25 minutes per game this season behind Toney Douglas and Landry Fields, as he is already the team's best perimeter defender. Shumpert plays with confidence on both ends of the court and was aggressive with the ball in his hands, while Fields looked passive at times last season, especially after Carmelo Anthony arrived.
Nobody wants to overreact to one impressive preseason performance but if Shumpert can find consistency with his jump shot, the rookie is more physically gifted than Fields and could find himself joining Douglas in the backcourt more often than not. Both are combo guards who can take on the ball-handling responsibilities, although Anthony will likely bring the ball down on occasion as well.
Carmelo Anthony Might Be Developing into a Willing Passer
For all of his offensive talents, Anthony is much maligned for being a black hole on offense. Generally when he touches the ball, he doesn't like to give it up. This left the Knicks offense stagnant at times last season and didn't allow his teammates to get into an offensive rhythm.
In today's game, Anthony showed that not only does he have the ability to be an effective passer but he might be willing to do more when it comes to orchestrating the offense. He showed off his passing ability on two nice second-quarter feeds to Renaldo Balkman for easy baskets at the hoop and set up a Tyson Chandler dunk in the third quarter with a beautiful bounce pass off of a pick-and-roll.
With the Knicks cutting Chauncey Billups thanks to the new amnesty clause, the team lacks a true point guard. The ball will be in Anthony's hands a lot on the offensive end and if he's willing to take on more of a point forward role in the offense to complement his scoring ability, this Knicks team could be even more difficult to defend.
New York's Bench Has a Nice Mix of Shooters and Defenders
Everybody knows Mike Bibby can shoot; it's about the only above-average ability he has left at this stage of his career. Second-round rookie center Josh Harrellson out of Kentucky showed some long-distance ability as well and could help the Knicks stretch the court when he plays.
Harrellson was one of the most improved players in college basketball last season, which led to him being drafted in the second round after being well off the NBA radar before the season. He's deceptively athletic on the court and could give the Knicks some decent minutes behind Tyson Chandler.
Bibby and Harrellson should mesh well with the second unit, which looks like it will include Shumpert along with Renaldo Balkman and Jared Jeffries, three players who are known more for their defensive abilities. It will be interesting to see how Bill Walker may fit into Mike D'Antoni's rotation once his groin gets healthy, as he's another player who isn't afraid to toss up three-pointers off the bench.