By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
You will not need to wait to see New York Knicks’ first round draft pick Tim Hardaway Jr. and other youngsters as the Knicks will be taking part in the Las Vegas Summer League. The first game for the Knicks will be Friday, July 12th against the New Orleans Pelicans. They will play the Washington Wizards July 14th and then the Charlotte Bobcats July 15th. The Knicks will play at least five games with the NBA implementing a new tournament style format that will crown a champion formally for the first time since the summer league was introduced. There will also be four practices held at the facilities prior to all of the games starting July 12th.
Here is a look at who will be taking the court for the Knicks in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas:
The Knicks have had players really show up in the NBA Summer League and have it paralleled into spots on the regular season roster. Landry Fields earned the starting shooting guard spot opening night three seasons ago and last season Chris Copeland made a name for himself, turning his opportunity into a multi-year contract this offseason. Here are some players to keep an eye on this season that could turn some heads:
Tim Hardaway Jr., Shooting Guard, Michigan: The 24th overall pick in the draft this season will have his first professional appearance in the NBA Summer League. It will be the first chance Knicks fans get to see him in action. It would be a nice sign to see Hardaway take a kind of leadership role alongside Iman Shumpert during the summer. Throughout his time with Michigan he was a leader and it will interesting to see if that continues in the NBA alongside his confidence. Hardaway will not be asked to be a go-to scorer on the Knicks so getting started right away with knocking down jump shots would be a nice sign for Hardaway.
C.J. Leslie, Power Forward, N.C. State: Leslie went undrafted this year and was quickly pick up as a free agent by the Knicks. Leslie was projected by some to go in the backend of the first round and if not there definitely high in the second. Instead he slipped all the way out of the draft all together and got to pick where he wanted to go. Leslie is a super athletic forward that can finish above the rim and rebound well. His athleticism is rivaled by few forwards and he would bring youth and athleticism to a Knicks front line lacking both. He has as good a chance of anyone to lock up a roster spot for the regular season if he puts on a strong performance in the summer league.
Tony Mitchell, Forward, Alabama: Mitchell played in the NBA D-League last season and dominated. Mitchell was a do it all forward for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants putting up stats across the board and performing well on offense and defense. Mitchell averaged 21.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.7 blocks per game in 35.3 minutes per game. Mitchell will look to continue playing two way basketball with the Knicks in the summer hoping to get a look with them for the regular season or catch the eye of another team. Mitchell would be a good fit for the Knicks as they still lack a legitimate option behind Carmelo Anthony at the small forward position.
Iman Shumpert, Guard, New York Knicks: Shumpert’s spot on the team is not in question but this will be the first time he has a chance to take part in the summer league. His rookie year with the lockout there was no summer league and last season he was injured so Mike Woodson asked him to attend and play. This will be a good opportunity for Shumpert to work on his game as a point guard, something that will enable him to be on the court more for the Knicks and fill a void as legitimate third point guard option. Shumpert has the ability to dominate the summer league but seeing how he plays as a lead point guard is what to really keep an eye on.
Jerome Jordan, Center, Tulsa: Jordan is a familiar name amongst Knicks personnel and fans. This is the best chance that he has to make the team. The Knicks sorely need younger big men and Jordan fits that bill. He has been honing his craft in the D-League and last season put up some productive numbers. Jordan averaged 13.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in only 29.8 minutes per game. Jordan has potential to be a game changer on the defensive end and looks to have some ability to put the ball in the basket, something the Knicks could benefit from. He has been a player the Knicks have liked for a while and this may be the time he makes the team and gets a legitimate chance to show what he can do.