The New York Knicks come away victors against the Washington Wizards 124-121 in overtime. With the win, the Knicks displayed various things that will translate to the regular season.
On Monday night, the New York Knicks opened the 2018 preseason against the Washington Wizards. It was their first game since the end of the 2017-18 season, so new players took the court under head coach David Fizdale.
New York won, 124-121, in overtime and had a handful of players stand out amidst the 19 that played. What were the main takeaways from the game, though? Let’s take a look:
5. Knicks playing with pace
Former Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek tried to implement the type of style that had his Phoenix Suns on the brink of the playoffs. However, he never had the players on the roaster in order to play at that pace. With the restructuring of the roster, coach David Fizdale has the team running like a pack of gazelles.
From plays at the rim to transition three’s, the Knicks ran early and often to the tune of 24 fast break points. Only the Portland Trail Blazers recorded fewer fast break points than New York last season (8.6). Play-by-play announcer Mike Breen made a point to mention the offseason workout contributing to the Knicks ability to run in transition.
4. Mitchell Robinson has heart
The Knicks’ second-round pick, Mitchell Robinson, checked into the game late in the first quarter and made an immediate impact. The stat line will not just off screen—6 points, 7 rebounds, 3-4 from the field, 0-4 from the free throwline—yet his athletic ability jumped off the screen.
Clearly showing he has the natural talent to play in the league, Robinson appear to show his temperament as well. After a made free throw, some words were exchanged between the 21 year old and Wizards forward Markieff Morris where the two were face to face.
Both players were issued technical fouls and separated without a physical altercation ensuing. Though, Morris seemed triggered by something Robinson said, causing Morris to receive his second technical and automatic ejection.
Robinson and Morris only have to wait about a month to rekindle their “friendship” as these two teams meet again on Nov. 4 in the nation’s capital. Whether the former will be on the team at that point remains to be seen.
3. Trey Burke left an impression
In the three way battle royale for the starting point guard spot, Trey Burke left a lasting impression. Despite shooting under 35 percent from the field he knocked down all three of his free throw attempts and kept the pace from the team. Burke was a plus-seven when he was on the court while showing off his dance moves, courtesy of Austin Rivers.
While Fizdale has remained silent on who will start for the Knicks on opening night, the group of Burke, Tim Hardaway, Kevin Knox, Lance Thomas, and Enes Kanter played well in their limited time on the floor. While a lineup change is possible for the Knicks’ next preseaseon game against the Brooklyn Nets, look for this group to play again and longer.
2. Mario Hezonja can be the spark off the bench
Mario Hezonja reportedly turned down multiple offers from playoff teams in order to rehabilitate his career under the guidance of coach Fizdale. He checked into the game and flashed some of the upside, he once brought to the NBA. Coming off a curl pick, he penetrated the lane and found Robinson for the dunk in traffic.
Hezonja’s ability to pass was one of the reasons the Knicks signed him during the offseason; however, he still has to learn to control his aggression. He lead the team in turnover with 5 despite only playing 22 minutes.
The Croatian forward is still in play for a starting gig and signed with the Knicks in order to challenge for that; but his playmaking skills may better help the Knicks off the bench.
If Burke becomes the starting point guard, then Hezonja’s offensive skill set can add the team off the bench. No other Knick has the abilty to score quite like Hezonja off the bench or has his passing ability either.
Having Hezonja as the sixth man could tremendously improve his stock around the league as a combo forward who can flash his playmaking skills. It also allows for him to play within himself and stay in the frame of the offense.
1. Kevin Knox’s versatility is scary
It’s not a comparison, but Kevin Knox flashed skills similar to Kevin Durant. He lead the Knicks in points, rebounds, and minutes played. He shot over 50 percent from the field and went 2-for-5 on three-pointers
With the hype surrounding Knox off of his Summer League performance, he was able to translate the things the worked well for him in the summer to the main roster. His versatility to spread the floor and push the pace was on full display last night.
Fizdale wants multiple ball handlers on the floor so whoever gets the rebound can push the pace. Knox for sure will have his struggles, but his path to a successful rookie season is off to a good start.