The new NBA season got underway last night, and what a night it was for the Knicks. They won 122-97 on the road in Milwaukee to begin the year with a W. Looking at the box score, the New York bench combined for 73 points! A performance like that from the second unit has left the league in shock, and could Phil Jackson have pulled off yet another basketball miracle?
Derrick Williams stole the show for the Knickerbockers, coming off the bench to put up 24 points in just 21 minutes of play. Those kind of numbers coming off the bench wins basketball games. Langston Galloway also came off the bench on fire, and made some clutch plays to end with 16 points from 24 minutes of action. Lance Thomas put up 13 points of his own from just 19 minutes of play, and there was 10 points for the rookie Jerian Grant, 8 points for Kyle O’Quinn and 2 points for Cleanthony Early.
Now onto the starters, and Knicks fans would have been delighted to see Carmelo Anthony play 29 minutes last night. The franchise player put up 11 points. That may not seem like much but he was frequently double-teamed, forcing him to pass the ball off and allowed his teammates to do some scoring of their own. The 4th overall pick Kristapz Porzingis showed promising signs of what to see in the future. He put up 16 points, including making 9 of 12 free throws. He was aggressive and calm which led to the Latvian rookie leading the scoring out of the starters. Sasha Vujacic put in a good performance on his regular season debut, the shooting guard had 11 points. New center Robin Lopez finished his competitive debut with 8 points, and veteran Jose Calderon ended with just 3 points.
So an impressive display for the Knicks on the road to start the season. The rookies looked good, the triangle offence worked effectively, and the team will feel good returning to the Garden tonight to play Atlanta coming off a big win.
After a performance like that, it leaves me wondering how strong this Knicks team could really be this year. When your bench is coming up with over 70 points, you have to be winning games regularly, there’s no question about that. Can this Knicks team do enough to make the post-season? It’s pretty clear that they haven’t got the best roster, and it’s only been one game, but they have looked impressive over pre-season, and have consistently shared points among the team. So could we be looking at a group of guys ready to push for the play offs? The team is made up mostly of guys yet to reach their potential. Derrick Williams, Kyle O’Quinn, Sasha Vujacic etc. But the triangle offence is allowing each player to take shots and to be involved regularly on that end of the floor. Every player scored for the Knicks last night.
For me I think Derrick Williams is playing in a system that works for him. He is a guy that comes off the bench and is explosive, he wastes no time getting to the basket or finding the open look. Phil Jackson has done a great job in bringing in guys who suit the triangle. It seems to have worked successfully so far. Let’s not forget Arron Afflalo and Kevin Seraphin didn’t even play last night! Having them in the team will make the chances of success even stronger!
Will the Knicks win again at home tonight? Or will the Atlanta Hawks be too strong for them?
And finally do you think this second unit could be the difference in getting this team back into the playoffs? Let me know in the comments or via twitter and facebook.