The first debut for the 2019 New York Knicks Summer League team was cut short due to an earthquake in the 3rd quarter, but the game provided some hopeful signs until then.
The New York Knicks kicked off the Summer League tournament Friday evening against the New Orleans Pelicans, with the lauded clash between former Duke teammates Zion Williamson and the RJ Barrett taking center stage.
However, mother nature ended up stealing the show this evening, with an earthquake emanating from California reaching the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, causing the game to be suspended and ultimately postponed with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Prior to the earthquake calling the game short, the new-look Knicks were playing a game filled with ups and downs, led behind the poor debut of rookie RJ Barrett, the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft, who ended the game with 10 points on 4-for-18 shooting from the field and 1-for-8 from three-point range.
Friday’s performance from Barrett was certainly a case of rookie nerves, but also highlighted some of the negative takes scouts had of him at the draft: while he’s certainly a scorer, his shot still needs a lot of work. Barrett showed more effectiveness on the offensive end when out in transition or driving to the rim, and while the game was an overall poor performance, he did display his rebounding prowess, ending the game with five rebounds and fighting hard on both ends.
As for the rest of the Knicks, there were more highs than lows to be found.
The team came out hot to start the game, jumping out to an early lead behind the offense of Allonzo Trier and Kevin Knox. Knox played especially well in the first half, hitting his first three 3-point attempts and driving well to the rim. It seems like Knox has managed to add some more strength this offseason, and with the majority of his minutes tonight coming at the power forward position, it will be interesting to see how much time Knox sees at the 4 this season with the recent frontcourt signings made by the Knicks.
While Mitchell Robinson was able to impress again tonight with more of the rim running and shot blocking that he made his name on in the 2018-19 season, the other rookie debutant Ignas Brazdeikis had similar rookie struggles to his fellow Canadian national, Barrett.
While Brazdeikis was able to get to the rim with a combination of strength and deceptive dribbling for his size, he also struggled to finish, ending the night with five points on 2-for-8 shooting and missing all three of his three-point attempts.
Of note from the rest of the game:
- Neither of the Knicks undrafted signees VJ King or Amir Hinton played, with substitutes Lamar Peters, Tyler Cavanaugh, Andrew White III and Kenny Wooten seeing the minutes off the bench.
- Kadeem Allen was serviceable running the point tonight, but was also inefficient shooting and turned the ball over on some bad lobs to Robinson in the second half.
- Barrett was better on defense than initially scouted, keeping both forwards and guards in front of him the majority of the game.
The game was officially canceled, and the score is final. The New York Knicks will play again on Sunday, July 7.