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Monday, September 1, 2014

Is Jeremy Tyler’s Roster Spot in Jeopardy?

The New York Knicks announced on October 7th that Amar’e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, and Jeremy Tyler will not be suiting up for their first three preseason games.

No one expected Smith to play at all or Stoudemire to play much this preseason, but Tyler’s early absence puts him in a precarious position as his contract is only partially guaranteed. He underwent foot surgery last month and his return has been pegged at eight to ten weeks. Best case scenario, he’d be back in mid-November.

Tyler is an intriguing project big, but given the need to keep Chandler’s MPG down and the kid gloves with which they’ve donned to handle Kenyon Martin thus far, there’s a need for a dependable backup.

There are a lot of things to like about Tyler. First and foremost, his height and size (6’10″, 250 lbs) has the frame to man the middle given the relative dearth of traditional, low-post bigs, especially considering that the bulk of his PT will be coming against 2nd stringers.

It’s also important to remember that despite three years of professional experience. Tyler is only 22 years old. He’s a very raw talent, but there have been flashes of competent play. In the Knicks’ last game of Summer League, they were pitted  against the Los Angeles Clippers, and Tyler had what could be termed a breakout game. He flashed the offensive skills that spurred interest by  schools like Louisville, UCLA and USC before he ultimately decided to play overseas in Israel and Japan. Tyler scored 20 points at a very efficient 52.7 percent rate, finished in transition with some spectacular dunks, displayed impressive footwork on the block, and looked comfortable in the pick-and-roll.

It’s to easy to push Tyler’s Summer League performance aside and say, “Let’s see if it can translate in the regular season.”  That’s fair,  because we really haven’t seen much of him in the NBA. Last season with the Golden State Warriors he amassed a whopping 7 minutes and 28 seconds in a January contest against the Miami Heat.

Even though Tyler hasn’t seen a ton of floor time the last two seasons, he did excel in his limited stints in the D-League. In the 2011-12 season, Tyler played 29 mpg for the Dakota Wizards and totaled 15.6 ppg and also added 7.8 rpg. It was only 5 games, but Tyler didn’t waste the opportunity, and in doing so improved his game. Funny how that works.

Tyler spent a tad more time in the D-League this past season with the Santa Cruz Warriors, improving on his 2011-12 stint by scoring 17.4 ppg and 8.8 rpg over 12 games.  He scored and rebounded more, but his TS% fell from 61 percent to 56 percent mainly because he attempted more free throws, which are definitely not a strength of his. In his 12 games with Santa Cruz, Tyler shot an unsightly 60 percent from the charity stripe.

Tyler is still far from being a starter in the league, but at this point, that’s not necessary. He needs to focus on improving what he’s already good at– scoring and rebounding. Tyler has struggled coming off pick-and-rolls on defense, but a lot of Tyler’s defensive issues can be improved with quality coaching and the chance to go up against older, better players on a daily basis in practice.  Again,  he’s only 22 and even though right now he’s a liability on defense it’s not beyond the pale to suggest that Tyler can become a passable defender in time.

The Knicks figure to use their last three roster spots (or at least two of them) on frontcourt players. Camp invitees Ike Diogu, Cole Aldrich, and Josh Powell — who each have NBA experience — will have a great opportunity to impress the front office in the preseason.

Is Tyler’s roster spot in any real danger? Well, unless  the Knicks need a seventh guard in Murry or Douglas-Roberts, and assuming that Leslie probably will make the team, the numbers are still in his favor. That said, the sooner Tyler can get back on the court the better for him and the team. The Knicks frontline is thin and finding a dependable backup for Chandler has been an ongoing, 2+ year quest. Martin filled in admirably at the end of last season, and if he can stay healthy, he should soak up a great many of the backup minutes.

This may be Tyler’s best chance to carve a niche in the NBA, but he’s certainly got the potential to be a young asset on a still-veteran Knick team that’s not exactly riddled with cheap developmental prospects.

17 comments on “Is Jeremy Tyler’s Roster Spot in Jeopardy?

  1. JK47

    I think Cole Aldrich is a better investment of a roster spot than Tyler.

    Aldrich definitely has at least one NBA-level skill: rebounding. You could see it in the first preseason game– there were a couple of occasions when Aldrich went up vertically in a crowd of dudes and ripped down a board. On a team that has a dearth of big men who can rebound, that has some value. Tyler is a purely speculative player, a guy who seems pretty far away from figuring out how to do anything useful on an NBA level.

  2. EB

    JK47:
    I think Cole Aldrich is a better investment of a roster spot than Tyler.

    Aldrich definitely has at least one NBA-level skill: rebounding.You could see it in the first preseason game– there were a couple of occasions when Aldrich went up vertically in a crowd of dudes and ripped down a board.On a team that has a dearth of big men who can rebound, that has some value.Tyler is a purely speculative player, a guy who seems pretty far away from figuring out how to do anything useful on an NBA level.

    Well they can take BOTH Tyler and Aldrich

  3. MarcusRinaldi

    After watching the summer league, it’d be sad to see Tyler not receive a roster spot. He honestly looked pretty polished compared to most everyone else. While Aldrich is still young, his upside is exponentially less than Tyler’s.. I see room for both on the team, and believe they both should make it. Had Prigioni not re-signed, I would have been pushing for Murry, but with three point guards, and shumpert, tw jr. , and jr smith, they have enough ball handlers all ready. With that being said, if Chris Smith ever made the team I’d probably scratch my eyeballs out

  4. thenamestsam

    I can’t say I know exactly how these things work, but I would love to see the Knicks hold on to Tyler’s rights but send him to the d-league for a full season. I think at this point in his development he really needs the additional game time, especially because I think that’s the best way to get experience defending the PnR which seems like the area he most needs to improve to become a realistic NBA player. I like his talent and he’s still young enough (for a big guy especially) that time is on his side. I just think he’s too raw at this point to really be a contributor to the Knicks.

  5. george from brooklyn

    Effectively, the Knicks have 12 for sure, roster spots. I’d add Aldrich, who I think will be a 12-15 minute guy a night, Murry and Tyler, all of whom I think have the best upsides + can contribute now and Leslie would be the guy to go. None of the rest should even be in the conversation.

  6. JK47

    george from brooklyn:
    Effectively, the Knicks have 12 for sure, roster spots. I’d add Aldrich, who I think will be a 12-15 minute guy a night, Murry and Tyler, all of whom I think have the best upsides + can contribute now and Leslie would be the guy to go. None of the rest should even be in the conversation.

    I agree with this. I don’t see anything special about CJ Leslie, and the rest of the guys in competition for those roster spots are dreck. I hadn’t really done the roster math but it would be nice to keep Tyler around as a developing big.

  7. Shad0wF0x

    1. (PG) Raymond Felton
    2. (SG) Iman Shumpert
    3. (SF) Carmelo Anthony
    4. (PF) Amar’e Stoudemire
    5. (C) Tyson Chandler
    6. J.R. Smith
    7. Metta World Peace
    8. Kenyon Martin
    9. Pablo Prigioni
    10. Beno Udrih
    11. Tim Hardaway Jr.
    12. Andrea Bargnani

    Yeah I’d add Aldrich (who can rebound and at least shove opposing bigs). Murry and Tyler too because of potential upside. With Carmelo, Iman, J.R. THJr, and Metta rotating around the 3, I don’t know where C.J. Leslie would fit in.

  8. Unreason

    EB: Well they can take BOTH Tyler and Aldrich

    Makes sense to me.

    JK47: I don’t see anything special about CJ Leslie

    Have you seen enough to evaluate his potential as a perimeter defender? I haven’t. I’m intrigued, though, by the clips and reports on him. Might he be a higher risk/higher reward option over Murry?

  9. massive

    I think it’s gonna be the 12 + Aldrich for sure. I just hope Lil Pipe doesn’t make the roster because he appears to be the biggest waste of a roster spot as he does nothing well. But maybe having him around will force JR to be a responsible role model. In that case, we should definitely keep his brother around.

  10. Unreason

    Shad0wF0x: I don’t know where C.J. Leslie would fit in.

    Would Murry be buried any less? He might very well be the better choice, but neither is likely to see any pt without a whole lot of injuries ahead of them in the depth chart.

  11. nicos

    Unreason: Would Murry be buried any less? He might very well be the better choice, but neither is likely to see any pt without a whole lot of injuries ahead of them in the depth chart.

    Yeah, Murry was awful running the point during summer league so if he has to play 2 he’s already behind 3 guys on the depth chart (and the Knicks will certainly play a fair amount of 2 point lineups) so even with multiple injuries it’s tough to see him getting even garbage time minutes.
    I’m all in favor of giving Tyler a roster spot even at the expense of Aldritch- unless Aldritch shows he can defend in space at least a little bit he’s no better than Diogu, Earl Barron or host of other guys you can pick up anytime if need be. Right now Tyler is probably worse than those guys but I’d say the odds are probably 50/50 that he’ll be better by the end of the season and there is a small chance (maybe 15%) that he winds up much, much better- given how tough it is to find good bigs I’d say he’s worth the risk. I’d say keep Aldritch, Tyler and probably Leslie as your last three guys- you can always dump any of them if you need an extra roster spot.

  12. EB

    Everything I’ve te cite=”comment-446862″>

    Unreason: Would Murry be buried any less? He might very well be the better choice, but neither is likely to see any pt without a whole lot of injuries ahead of them in the depth chart.

    Everything I’ve read about Leslie says he’s a phenomenal athlete but everything I’ve seen, mostly college clips, shows he has almost no skill. I’ve really soured on these types of players but I have no problem with the Knicks taking a flier on him. We can take 3 guys and I think Aldrich and Tyler should be 2 of them. I’ve also found Diogu’s numbers intriguing but we probably don’t need him and T&A.

  13. EB

    I’d like to see Leslie running the full court press and some traps with shump prigs and metta he might be worth throwing in for that. I think that’s how Jeffries got started on the wizards

  14. danvt

    I like Aldrich as a guy who can step in and play serviceable 5 against a team like IND who can take advantage of a reed thin D’Antoni style stretch 5 or 4/5 combo player. I like Tyler but if he shoots 60% of his free throws he won’t play meaningful minutes down he stretch of games. I like Aldrich to be on the bench in street clothes most nights and to be able play spot duty in case of injury or if we need 5 fouls to give to Hibbert or Howard. I like Tyler but don’t see him excelling in that role. Maybe coach W can imagine a second quarter hustle team type role for him. If we can keep him and stow him, wtf, but not instead of Coleekins. Tyler’s injury is a big variable as well.

  15. max fisher-cohen

    Well, so far I’m unimpressed. If folks revert to the mean or worse in their 3 point shooting, NYK is screwed. I hope Bargnani is practicing nothing but 3s.

  16. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Anything but Jeremy Tyler! Noooooooooo!

    Seriously, we need as many people for Carmelo to make better as possible!

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