Pelicans 77, Knicks 72: Knicks fall in Summer League opener

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.

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Chase Thomas

Chase Thomas is new to KnickerBlogger but has written about the Knicks for years now. Was in attendance for Nate Robinson's 41 point night versus the Hawks. Successfully annoyed Allan Houston's assistant for talking his ear off while sitting next to him at a Knicks game 3 years ago. Follow him on twitter:

6 thoughts to “Pelicans 77, Knicks 72: Knicks fall in Summer League opener”

  1. Nice piece. Pretty much sums up what I saw. I did think Shumpert guarded the point pretty well, no? At least when he was actually trying. I guess Rivers did whatever he wanted and that’s on Shump, so, I dunno. Can he defend that spot? Might he guard Deron Williams this year?

    What happens to the guy on the point in the P&R is that he ends up switched out on the big man on the perimeter. On a play in the 4th q I thought Shumpert put good pressure on the ball but then Rivers got fouled by a big in the paint.

    Didn’t realize Tyler had that many rebounds. His post moves are very raw (and I’m trying to be nice). He seems like he’s in great shape though and if all he needs to do is what Tyson does on offense for NYK maybe he’s a keeper too.

  2. Thanks!

    Shumpert can hold his own guarding 1’s, 2’s and 3’s for the most part. With Felton being as bad as he is coming off PnR’s Shumpert will probably be on guys like Deron, Rose, etc more and more I’d bet.

  3. My hope is that NY just wants Shump to be reliable bringing the ball up the floor alongside Prigs. I hope they don’t believe he can run the PnR.

  4. It’s great that Shump has SOME combo guard skills, but ultimately he’s better as a secondary ball handler- one who helps the ball get to where it needs to go. With his athleticism and work ethic, all he needs to do is work on his midrange, ball handling so that he can attack better off the PnR, entry passes (if Stat is ballin the way I think he can), and make sound decisions with the ball. He’s had the ball in his hands pretty much from grade school up so I’m kinda surprised his handle isn’t very tight. He played PG out of necessity at GT so I don’t expect him to be a great passer. But at least he can be above average..enough to make defenses respect his presence when he does have the ball. If he can do what Kidd did for the ball moment early in the season the team will be much better as he can attack better and defend better. If he can give shoot better from midrange and out then he will add a whole new dimension to the offense and open up things for our big guns. I don’t think Woodson should ever seriously consider him at the 1. His summer league experiment is probably a way to get him to improve the overall ball movement in a game environment. I think he’s purely a 2, not even a combo guard. I hate when analysts use that term to describe him. He has enough PG skills to get buy when teams ramp up the pressure..not enough to run the point well enough to spell the starter. He’s not a scorer in a PG frame. But if he can handle and pass better than the average SG that would enable us to run PnR from just about any spot more consistently because we wouldn’t have to depend on a primary playmaker as much- so long as he develops his midrange. A consistent 35% from deep would be great too

  5. If Shumpert were capable of running point in the NBA they wouldn’t have him do it in the summer league after two years in the NBA. The idea is that if he works on it he might, you know, get better.

  6. I don’t think the Knicks have any intention of having Shump play serious minutes at the point. I’m sure they’d like him to run some side pnr’s when he’s at the two and be able to run the break on occasion- he’s obviously concentrating on getting to the glass (he’s mentioned it multiple times in interviews) and being able to push the ball and get out in transition could really help the team. Also Prigs seemed a bit vulnerable to traps at times so just having another guy who can bring the ball up is always helpful.

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