The New York Knicks defeated the Washington Wizards 90-88 to pull to 2-1 on the preseason. Which players stepped up to help the Knicks achieve victory?
Article continues below ...
Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) shoots the ball over Washington Wizards center Ian Mahinmi (28) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Following the preseason opener, a number of fans and media members were ready to write the New York Knicks off. New York’s defense no-showed the clash with the Houston Rockets and no one was going to be let off the hook.
Two games later, the Knicks’ defense is thriving and key contributors are emerging as the primary facilitators of that success.
New York opened the preseason with a 130-103 loss to the Houston Rockets. It followed that 27-point blowout with a 116-98 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, which set the table for its latest success.
The defense was dominant and the offense adequate as New York secured a 90-88 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Not everyone played well, but five Knicks players stood out from the rest. They set the tone for the victory and made statements as it pertains to their place in the rotation and the upside that they possess.
The question is: which players stepped up to help the Knicks achieve victory against the Washington Wizards?
Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Since struggling against the Houston Rockets in the preseason opener, Carmelo Anthony has looked like a superstar again. He torched the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, October 8, and looked just as good against the Washington Wizards.
If this is a sign of things to come, then Anthony’s history of excelling in the NBA after winning an Olympic gold medal will continue.
Anthony finished with 19 points, four rebounds, two assists, one block, and a steal in 25 minutes of action. He shot 7-of-11 from the field, went 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, and converted his only free throw attempt.
It was an outstanding performance by the franchise player, whose contributions will determine the success or failure of the 2016-17 season for the New York Knicks.
Anthony’s willingness to facilitate is a continued development, but it’s his scoring prowess that matters most. Anthony’s legs weren’t under him in 2015-16, but that doesn’t appear to be an issue with his jump shot or his interior game entering 2016-17.
If Anthony continues to perform like this, then the Knicks will get back to the NBA Playoffs this season.
Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Ron Baker (31) shoots the ball over Washington Wizards guard Daniel House (4) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Baker didn’t have a great game from a statistical perspective, but he certainly turned heads. Baker was clutch with his shooting, tenacious with his effort and energy, and willing to do any and everything that his team asked of him.
The race for a roster spot is heating up between Baker and Chasson Randle, and against the Washington Wizards, Baker made quite the case.
Baker finished with eight points, four rebounds, three offensive boards, and two assists in 16 minutes. He shot just 2-of-7 from the field, but he made a crucial shot with less than a minute remaining.
Far more important than the shooting percentages was the fact that Baker worked his tail off against a Wizards team with quality guards.
Ron Baker is a tough player man. Real easy to root for.
Baker didn’t get three offensive rebounds by getting lucky. The 6’4″ shooting guard defended with vigor, selflessly worked without the ball, and made the big plays when they mattered the most for the Knicks.
Though it may appear as though Baker and Randle are competing for a roster spot, it’s beginning to seem as though he’s actually competing with Justin Holiday.
Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) and Washington Wizards guard Casper Ware (17) exchanges words during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Forget about the statistics when discussing Brandon Jennings this early in the season. What matters most is that he plays an exciting brand of basketball that brings Madison Square Garden to life and energizes his teammates.
With yet another slew of highlight-reel plays against the Washington Wizards, Jennings affirmed his status as one of the most promising players on the roster.
Jennings was flashy, fearless, and flat-out fantastic against the Wizards. Whether it was a catch-and-shoot 3 or a play off the bounce, Jennings found ways to electrify the home crowd and energize his teammates.
Jennings played at such a high level that Madison Square Garden actually erupted with chants of his name.
An unbelievable moment—especially in a preseason game.
Jennings finished with 11 points, three rebounds, one offensive board, one assist, and a steal in 26 minutes of action. He drained three 3-point field goals and was tied with Kristaps Porzingis for the best +/- in the game at +12.
Jennings is still finding himself as a scorer, but his tenacious approach to creating offense is exactly what the New York Knicks need.
Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (40) dunks the ball as Washington Wizards guard Daniel House (4) defends during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Willy Hernangomez and Marshall Plumlee have traded games during which they earned the respect and adoration of New York Knicks fans. After Hernangomez stepped up against the Brooklyn Nets, it was Plumlee’s turn against the Washington Wizards.
With a chance to become the backup center behind Joakim Noah, Plumlee stepped up and helped the Knicks close the 90-88 victory out.
A photo posted by Marshall Plumlee (@marshallplumlee40) on
Plumlee recorded six points, five rebounds, two offensive boards, and two assists in 18 minutes. He shot 3-of-4 from the field, accumulated a +/- of +4, and picked the perfect time to make his mark as a scorer.
With New York trailing 83-82 and just 1:17 remaining on the game clock, Plumlee proceeded to score four critical points in the span of 13 seconds.
Plumlee earned his NBA status by thriving at Duke in that very capacity. He’s a big-game player who’s at his best when the pressure has mounted and his teammates need him to make his mark on a game.
Despite the guaranteed money he’s owed, Plumlee isn’t guaranteed a roster spot in 2016-17. More performances like this could secure his place.
Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) and New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) tip off at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Every time Kristaps Porzingis takes the floor, it’s a happening in New York City. He’s gone from being the source of misery to the source of optimism for a New York Knicks organization that hasn’t offered many reasons to be optimistic since Jeff Van Gundy departed in 2001.
Against the Washington Wizards, Porzingis continued to establish himself as one of the best young players in the NBA today.
Porzingis played a game-high 32 minutes—the most he’s recorded this preseason. He finished with 15 points, six rebounds, two offensive boards, two assists, two blocks, and two steals, and had a +/- of +12.
When the player who sees the most court time also has the best +/- of any player on the floor, it’s only fair to believe their performance.
Porzingis appeared to be more comfortable around the basket against Washington, which is significant progress. He shot 6-of-8 on 2-point field goals, did an excellent job of moving without the ball, and continued to show the handles and ball control to dominate opposing defenses.
Without a hint of hyperbole, Porzingis seems to get better every time he takes the floor.