In what was a really close game throughout the day, the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the New York Knicks in their Las Vegas Summer League opener yesterday afternoon, thanks in part to a huge afternoon from Austin Rivers.
Rivers, who had a rookie year he’d like to forget, elevated the Pelicans with twenty-four points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists.
Iman Shumpert, playing for the Knicks Summer League squad, got a pretty good amount of burn, which is hardly surprising: with the Knicks point guard depth lacking a bit going into the 2013-14 season, the plan seems to be to let Shumpert handle a few minutes a night running the point.
There’s just one problem: Shumpert is not capable of running point in the NBA. Today’s game was just another example: he missed all of his shots, didn’t attack the rim, and turned the ball over a bunch of times. He did manage to contribute on the glass — something he’s excelled at so far in the league.
Along with Shumpert, the Knicks rolld out Jeremy Tyler, C.J. Leslie and Tim Hardaway Jr. for hefty minutes today. Tyler looked the most comfortable with team, adding eleven rebounds, ten points, five fouls, was consistently active, and definitely came across looking like a player the Knicks could use in a thin front court this season.
Hardaway Jr. got the most minutes today, and what we saw was pretty much expected — high volume shooting, finishing with a rough 4-12 FGA/FGM for the day, including 1-6 from deep.
It might be a day Hardaway would like to forget, but that’s why they call it Summer League.
C.J. Leslie stuck, for the most part, with what seemed like the Knicks program for the day: not making many shots. Leslie went 2-9 from the field, and never really looked comfortable. Part of this might have to do with Leslie’s unique situation; unlike Hardaway Jr., Leslie has no idea if he fits in the Knicks somewhat long-term plans. Leslie is one of those guys who is going to get a lot of minutes this summer, but has to play a lot better then he did today if he wants to make the 15-man roster.
Two guys that most are probably not familiar with that had good games today were Toure Murry and Eloy Vargas. Murry was the only Knick to shoot the ball well, going 4-6 from the field and notching eleven points in just twelve minutes of play.
Vargas, along with Tyler, had a nice day inside — not so much on the defensive or rebounding side of things, but he did add nine points on 4-5 shooting.
Murry and Vargas came off as the two guys who should probably get a bigger role in the next couple of games, to see what they can do in 30+ minutes of action.
The Knicks next game is Sunday afternoon against the Washington Wizards at 4:00 EST.