New York Knicks: Why NBA Summer League matters

To some, NBA Summer League is an offseason annoyance that doesn’t matter. However, New York Knicks fans have plenty to watch in the Orlando Summer League.

The average NBA fan of most any team can look past NBA Summer League action with good reason. New York Knicks fans, however, need to keep both eyes on their team at all times. With Phil Jackson in control, anything is possible at any time…except winning.

Summer League games feature rookies, fringe NBA players and international prospects competing for a roster invite. In the past, players like Damian Lillard, Aaron Gordon and Kyle Anderson used great summer runs to catapult themselves into NBA success.

Obviously, not every Summer League participant will make the NBA. Yet, for the New York Knicks navigating their summer team is an important process.

Case in point: Ron Baker and Chasson Randle excelled for the Knicks Summer League team in 2016 and became contributors last season.

Extra Coaching

Head coach Jeff Hornacek, will coach the Summer League team in a move clearly designed to teach the triangle offense.

In his second year with the team, Hornacek could have allowed assistants to coach. However, it appears that Phil Jackson either mandated or strongly suggested Hornacek use a hands-on approach in the summer.

The Knicks made a young point guard from France the focal point of their draft and now their Summer League team. For Frank Ntilikina to grow in the triangle he will need clear instruction and Jeff Hornacek is right to be directly involved.

Hornacek will get an important head start on his relationship with Ntilikina. Clearly, player/coach relationships are important for the Knicks going forward, since they completely botched their relationship with Kristaps Porzingis.

New York Knicks

Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Positive Mental Attitude

In life and in basketball, having a positive and winning attitude is essential to success. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much good news for the Knicks over the last few years.

Carmelo Anthony is in a personal no-win situation and Phil Jackson ran his name through the mud all season. Furthermore, the trade rumors that swirl around Porzingis cloud any hope there has been for the future.

“Like success, failure is many things to many people. With Positive Mental Attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order and prepare to try again.” –

W. Clement Stone

What does a positive attitude, summer basketball and the New York Knicks have to do with each other?  Everything. If the Knicks can see growth and success in this summer basketball session the season can start on a positive note.

New York Knicks

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In the history of the NBA, its hard to think of a team that needed good news more than the New York Knicks need this year.

On one hand, success in NBA Summer League doesn’t always equal regular season success. On the other, the Knicks need any and every good vibe they can possibly get this offseason.

Less Drama, More Basketball

Understandably, some fans follow the New York Knicks because of the unending drama. The saddest part is how Knicks ownership and management perpetuate the drama despite a losing track record. Fortunately, Summer League is the first chance of the new season to put the focus back on the court.

While there’s no sense in pretending the Knicks are a great team, there is hope for this season. Frank Ntilikina is not your ordinary rookie. Much like Kristaps Porzingis, he has experience in a professional setting and knows how a team should operate.

Once the Unicorn flies back to New York, there should be instant chemistry with Ntilikina because of their European pedigree and experience. Add in Carmelo with All-Rookie First Teamer Willy Hernangomez, and the Knicks shouldn’t be horrible next season.

Each and every Knicks fan should pay attention to how the Summer League team performs. What some see as annoying and boring is an important part of the long-term rebuild for the New York Knicks.

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