4 biggest takeaways from Knicks Summer League

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Quentin Grimes Miles McBride TREATED
Quentin Grimes Miles McBride TREATED

The Knicks wrapped up their Las Vegas Summer League swing on Monday with a drubbing of the Atlanta Hawks, finishing with a record of 4-2.

It was an insightful and exciting set of games in which New York’s most prized prospects competed with the same fervor and defensive intensity as their veteran counterparts.

Though it’s hard to glean much from Summer League with any real certainty, here are four takeaways as we inch closer to training camp and the start of next season:

Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley are too good for Summer League

This was brought up in our recent Summer League rundown, but holds true three games later. The two returning sophomores came to Vegas to get increased reps, show off their improvement and help lead the younger guys on the court and culture-wise -- all three of which were accomplished.

Toppin led the Summer Knicks in scoring, putting up 21 points a game along with 8.3 rebounds on 44.5 percent shooting from the field, 34.4 percent from deep and 88.9 percent at the stripe. There were some clear areas of improvement: A tighter handle, along with more aggressiveness and confidence offensively. His catch-and-shoot looks were much quicker, and he attacked the paint as if he was trying to prove he could be prime Amar’e Stoudemire.

Those attacks could have been cleaner, with plenty of head-scratching misses at the rim. Toppin was able to out-jump and out-work folks to put back many of those misses, but his athletic edge definitely decreases in the actual league. Still, he should be more of a weapon this season considering his increased level of comfort.

Quickley finished just under Toppin in scoring at 20.2 a night, adding 7.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds. His shooting numbers were straight-up bad, but he was able to make up for some of it with 6.4 free-throw attempts a game in spite of the new rules on foul-drawing.

The real highlights for Quickley were his improvements over last season. He averaged only 3.7 assists per-36 minutes last season, with a 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio. In Summer League, it’s a 3.25, and he looked much more willing and able to be a more traditional point guard at Summer League.

Most of these assists came from relatively simple reads, but a few pinpoint passes down the length of the court were especially impressive. Quickley leveraging his scoring to create for others, and vice versa, is crucial to his development. Another note: He made more of an effort to finish at the rim with non-floaters, another big development should he bring it to the regular season.

Miles McBride shines

Every member of the 2021 Knicks draft class showed enough to excite, but McBride stands in a tier of his own, as he began making the case to be New York’s fifth guard in the regular season.

McBride was the most impressive defender of the roster, seemingly gorilla glued to whomever his man was. If you’re a guard trying to create with McBride in your airspace, good luck. Isolation attempts were close to useless on him, and he’d fight through every screen to come back and bother the handler.

Even on the help side, McBride was impressive. He unleashes his surprising bounce whenever he’s rotating to a bigger finisher, and is actually able to affect shots at the rim at times.

Offensively, he’s got more of a package than expected. His pick-and-roll pull-up jumpers fell at the rate of a pure scorer’s, and his three ball was spot on as well. He also showed off a smart cutting game, where he also likes to take off and finish strong.

McBride finished with 15-3-3 on 53.2 percent shooting from the field, 50 percent shooting from three, and 87.5 percent shooting from the line. Though not fully translatable, if most of the shooting and defense holds up, McBride may be an NBA player from the get go.

Grimes, Sims and Jokubaitis impress

As for the rest of the Knicks' rookie class, there was not much to complain about.

Should Quentin Grimes have performed all Summer League how he did his last three games, he’d be up there with McBride right now. New York’s top selection struggled out of the gate with his jumper, putting up single-digits and ugly shooting percentages, before exploding for 15, 28, and 26 points in the final stretch.

Grimes showed off some high-level shot-making -- more than you’d expect out of someone dubbed a 3-and-D guy in the league. How much this translates is the question, unlike with his rebounding, where Grimes made an impact nightly en route to 6.3 boards a game.

Speaking of making a nightly impact, Jericho Sims does not look like the 58th overall pick. His athleticism and build are among the best of his entire rookie class, and he put them to work with 8.2 points and 8.2 rebounds a game on 81 percent shooting.

He’s lodged behind a scary center rotation, but one injury could grant Sims regular season minutes. There’s still a good bit of rawness in his offensive game and help defense, but that’s expected and fixable.

Rokas Jokubaitis only appeared in three games before going back to Spain, but proved himself as a legitimate prospect in that time. After shaking off jitters in his first outing, the lefty guard put up eight points in consecutive games, showing off his shooting stroke and craftiness inside. We likely won’t be seeing him until next Summer League, but there’s reason for excitement until then.

Another Vildoza disappointment

Luca Vildoza, signed last season with the hopes of joining the guard rotation in 2021-22, is running out of chances to make his mark. After a meh Olympics performance, Vildoza took his shot at Summer League, where he only appeared in two games and didn’t tally a point before sitting out due to injury.

We still have training camp and the preseason before decisions have to be made, and perhaps Vildoza needs a year under his belt to adjust to the league, like many of his foreign counterparts. Still, it’s disappointing to see him fall short like this.