By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Wizards | Cox Pavillion
When: Sunday | 4:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
New York: The Knicks came up short in their opening game here in Vegas, but they showed plenty of promising signs against the New Orleans Pelicans. First-round pick Tim Hardaway Jr. showed his all-around game, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out three assists and finding ways to score -- he shot 4-for-5 from the three throw line -- when his shot wasn't falling from the outside. Summer League is all about the process and starting to build chemistry, and for a stretch to start the second half, Hardaway, Iman Shumpert and C.J. Leslie showed a really strong rapport on the perimeter together. Some of the bigs played well, too; Jeremy Tyler had 10 points and 11 rebounds and Eloy Vargas, who started at power forward, had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Washington: As Washington looks to break a five-year playoff drought this year, it will need at least some of its recent draft picks to take steps forward. John Wall and Bradley Beal (who will miss Summer League as he recovers from a stress fracture in his leg) showed what they are capable of doing together when healthy, but they'll need help from guys like: Otto Porter (the 3rd overall pick in this year's draft), Glen Rice Jr. (the son of former NBA sharpshooter Glen Rice), Jan Vesely (the 6th overall pick from two year's ago) and Chris Singleton (another 1st rounder from 2011billed as a potential defensive stopper).
The Numbers Game
The Knicks were able to hang in there until the very end against the Pelicans thanks to a decided 46-37 advantage on the glass.
Matchup to Watch
C.J. Leslie vs. Otto Porter
Leslie flashed the tools that had many projecting him as an NBA lottery pick for years; he's explosive off the dribble and has great bounce and length to be disruptive. He didn't shoot well against New Orleans on Friday (2-for-9 from the field, 3-for-6 from the line) so he'll hope to settle in against Washington. Porter, considered to be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft, had a rough shooting day in his debut yesterday, going 3-for-13 from the field in about 30 minutes. He wasn't very assertive, hung out in corners. It's early and he'll be looking to improve today. Should be a fun matchup between to very talented young wings.
What to Look For
Iman Shumpert played more than 27 minutes in the opener, scoring two points and going 0-for-5 from the field. He did play a lot of point guard, leading the team with four assists. How much he plays will be something to watch, as will his ability to handle the ball and lead the team that way. His shot should come around, but it's a process to learn to score that way, and this is the time to learn it. Hardaway has hit the ground running, picking up plays quickly and even directing his teammates at times. Vargas got the start and made the coaches look good, draining a couple jumpers and using his 6-11 frame to his advantage. The former Kentucky Wildcat could will be worth watching if he continues to get opportunities to show what he can do.