Summer League Squad

One of my favorite times during the year is Summer League. For the first time everyone gets a look at the new players coming in. Fans can catch a glimpse into the future of their team, and see if their first round draft pick is actually going to amount to anything.

The Knicks “participated” in Orlando Summer League, one of three Summer League leagues. It wasn’t against top notch competition, like in Las Vegas. Dennis Smith Jr. was recovering so he could play in Las Vegas, and Malik Monk sat out, with a bad knee.

The Knicks still only won one game, a game that started at 8 am ET. So it was a tough Summer League, but the one hope is that the Knicks first round pick, Frank Ntilikina did not play, after hurting his knee for his former French team, right after the draft. Still there were 12 other players that played, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about them.

CHASSON RANDLE: The Rand-Man had a tough summer league. For a player who has actual NBA experience, you never want to see Randle struggle so much in Summer League. He scored pretty well at times, and very inefficiently other times. He showed his 3 point shot is a weapon when it’s falling and when it’s not he still forced it up.

The thing that was most concerning, to me, was that he couldn’t run the offense at all. He struggled mightily orchestrating. He looked much more comfortable when someone else brought the ball up, and he could work off ball, catching, moving the ball, and then running around a screen to get open. He showed a decent ability to get to the rim, but couldn’t always take advantage of that.

He led the Knicks in scoring, but it wasn’t exactly a very promising showing. His defense was atrocious, but that’s a running theme through the rest of the Knicks Summer League team. Part of it is on the scheme, I think, and the collapsing to the paint, but still.

I think Randle deserves a roster spot because no one else really showed much, to upend him, and the general lack of Guard depth on the Knicks. Based on last year, maybe keep him around as the 12th man. Part of me hopes he sticks around, as I’m a big Randle fan, and the other part couldn’t care less, because of how terrible he looked in SL.

DAMYEAN DOTSON: Damyean was the best player on the Knicks Summer League and it wasn’t even really close. The Houston product has the smoothest jumper I’ve seen in a while. His muscle memory is insane, because every shot is a carbon copy of the last one.

He has the best numbers across the board for the SL Knicks, being the 2nd best scorer, 3rd best rebounder and 2nd in assists, while showing he is capable of playing solid defense.

He shot 48% from 3, with half his shots coming from behind the arc, while shooting 48% from the field. I’ll take more of that.

Dotson can be the guy who takes over Justin Holiday’s minutes, playing a guard/forward combo, and with his build I would not be surprised if he can check 4’s for a limited amount of time, when teams go small. He was the one bright spot for the Knicks this Summer League

JAMEL ARTIS: I’m already a Jamel Artis Stan. This dude can score, and he can score quickly. He went 8–19 from 3-point range, during Summer League, and along with Dotson, showed us how much fun shooting three’s are!

With the future of the NBA looking like position-less basketball, guys like Jamel Artis are worth trying to groom. He can shoot, dribble, and pass. I’d really love for him to have a spot on the big Knicks, especially if Melo’s gone.

At the very least he should get a camp invite, and he should have a real shot at making the team, or at the very least end up on the W-Knicks. He was the second best player on the court for the Knicks, for most of Summer League, and I think he can continue that in the G-League.

MARSHALL PLUMLEE: Marshall, Marshall, Marshall. To me, Marshall got waived because of Summer League performance.

Plumlee lead the SL Knicks in rebounding, but it was exactly convincing. He let bigs push him around, and it seemed to me that the Knicks had huge leads built up against them when Plumlee was on the court.

Some of that could have been placed Chasson Randle, who wasn’t exactly stellar defensively in SL, and they were usually on the court together, but Plumlee was constantly being beat by guards, on hedges, and couldn’t protect the rim.

I think his watch has ended.

LOUIS LABEYRIE: Louis has improved every year he’s gone into SL. He’s just not really able to defend anyone on an NBA level. He has such a slight frame, he gets pushed around very easily.

He did bring a nice 3-point shot, hitting 57.1% of his threes, at over one a game. It was fun to watch him shoot them, and hit the bottom of the net! I hope he is a Knicks SL staple for another year!

With Willy Hernangomez, Kyle O’Quinn, Joakim Noah, and Kristaps Porzingis, it doesn’t really make any sense for Louis to make the team, but maybe he gets another shot at a Camp invite.

LUKE KORNET: Luke Kornet, the first person to ever officialy sign a two-way contract! I went into SL adamantly against Kornet. I had watched him once, and that was enough for me. He changed my mind by the end of Summer League, and I’m happy to have him along for the ride now!

Kornet shot 37.5% from behind the arc, and his shot looked as pure as the white snow. He can really stroke it. He did shoot only 27% from the field, but that’s just something he’ll have to work on, with the W-Knicks.

If he can’t score at the basket, he’ll have to get his mid-range game tighter. Maybe he can watch some video of LaMarcus Aldridge, to figure out how to work from the pinch post.

He didn’t rebound particularly well either, but he did block over one shot per game, and only averaged just over 1.5 fouls per game, showing he’s a smart defender, knowing how to play angles and such.

Happy to have you Luke! See you up to 45 days a year, with the Big Knicks!

XAVIER RATHAN-MAYES: Big X!! We have learned Xavier has a camp invite, and that was to be expected. Xavier was solid for the Knicks, running the show, behind Chasson Randle, and looking better than Randle for stretches.

He wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, shooting only 36% from the field, but he did shot 36% from Three as well, which would be about league average, in the NBA. Add that with averaging a steal per game, and the team leader in assists per game, at 3.5, he deserves the camp invite at the very least.

I wouldn’t be surprised if XRM gets the Knicks second, and final, Two-Way Contract. I’d be upset if it went to XRM over Artis, but I also hope Artis is just on the team.

NIGEL HAYES: I loved Nigel Hayes in college. He was one of the most fascinating players, during Wisconsin’s tournament runs with Nigel right up front a lot. Watching him in Summer League, I never really felt like he was all that comfortable, and it kind of bummed me out.

He defended well, at times, but he only shot 41% from the floor, and didn’t attempt a single three point shot. I know he’s not the greatest shooter, but to be a 3/4 in this league, and not shoot a single three, isn’t ideal.

Still there’s hope for Nigel! A man, who can defend, is always needed, is my old saying. I hope he ends up with a camp invite, and ends up in Westchester, to see if they can’t fix that outside shot, even a little bit, while getting consistent playing time.

DOMINIQUE JONES: Dominique Jones may have been the most fascinating player, to me, on this Summer League team. Jones was a bull, and got to where ever he wanted on offense. When the Knicks needed a bucket, or to slow things down, Jones put his head down, and got to the line.

On defense he showed his ability to hound ball handlers, and give the team some grit. He’s 28, and has been playing overseas for the last four years, so not exactly ideal. He’s the player he is. He can’t really shoot, and he turns the ball over a lot.

But he did shoot 60% from the field, though only 33% from three. He probably won’t get a chance, with a camp invite, but I’d like to see it. I had a lot of fun watching and rooting for this dude. I’d like to see him succeed.

CANYON BARRY: CANYON-AROOOOOOOOO!!!! That’s all I’ve got for Canyon. He shot poorly, didn’t rebound well, and he moves the ball well enough, but nothing really happens when he’s on the court.

He can’t really defend anyone at Summer League, I don’t think it will get better. I don’t think we’ll be seeing him at camp, much less later than August.

OGNJEN JARAMAZ: OGNJENNNNN!!! My man Ognjen was really something to watch. He only made one shot during the entire Summer League. That didn’t stop him from attacking, with the force of 10,000 Suns. He tried to dunk on everyone, and it was a delight every time.

I also enjoyed him on defense, playing physical and running over screens, and containing his man. He plays hard as hell, and I appreciate that so much.

I’d love to see OJ on the big Knicks, or even in the G-League (probably wouldn’t happen, just because he can probably make more money overseas), but we may have to wait another year for Jaramaz to break out.

It was another tough year for the Knicks in Summer League, but that’s okay, because you can just tell yourself, it’s just Summer League. They have a few guys I’d like to keep around (Dotson/Artis), and a couple of guys that will be around (Kornet/XRM). Then there’s Randle, who will most likely be back given the Knicks current guard situation, and then Ognjen, who should be on this team, just because.

And there’s your recap of the fresh, new batch of young faces, to add to the old batch of young faces.