By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Pelicans | Cox Pavillion
When: Friday | 4:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Knicksnow Live Game Chat
New York: It's an exciting time for this year's Knicks Summer League entry. They enter this year's new tournament format with with optimism, thanks to the talent that has assembled in Vegas. They are led by two-year NBA veteran, Iman Shumpert, who is out here to work on his game and take on a leadership role with his less-experienced teammates. Joining Shump are first-round pick, Tim Hardaway, Jr., undrafted free agent C.J. Leslie, center with NBA experience, Jeremy Tyler, among others.
New Orleans: The Pelicans took a giant leap forward this offseason in what was a rebuilding process following the departure of Chris Paul a few years ago. They traded the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, Nerlens Noel, to Philadelphia in exchange for point guard Jrue Holiday and then signed Tyreke Evans to a four-year deal. All of a sudden, there are real expectations in New Orleans. The Summer League team is led by last year's 10th overall pick, Austin Rivers, and second-year guard Darius Miller.
The Numbers Game
Iman Shumpert shot 40.2% from three this past season. As he continues to develop his offensive game, that will be a significant component.
Matchup to Watch
Tim Hardaway, Jr. vs. Austin Rivers
The two college stars with the NBA fathers come to Vegas looking to prove they can make their own names in the league. Rivers struggled mightily as a rookie, unable to make shots and, like most young players, still developing as a defender. Hardaway, Jr., has a real opportunity to contribute to this year's team, and that process starts today in Summer League. He has already shown great leadership qualities in practice, and will be looking to carry that over onto the floor.
What to Look For
For the Knicks, all eyes will be on Hardaway, the prized first round pick. The guy can shoot the lights out, but he will be here working on the other areas of his game. C.J. Leslie, the one time preseason ACC Player of the Year that wound up going undrafted, will have plenty to prove, but the talent is obviously there. Coach Woodson and his staff have stressed ball movement and valuing good shots, as well as defensive communication.