With impressive rookie years for Quentin Grimes and Jericho Sims, confidence among Knicks fans for the summer league was high. After drafting Trevor Keels with their only selection 43rd overall, many Knicks fans were eager to get an insight into how he may perform for the team, provided he is called up from Westchester at some stage in his two-way contract. Furthermore, the introduction of rings for the Summer League champions provided a glimmer of hope that the Knicks may finally be able to acquire some form of ‘hardware’.
The Knicks’ first game in their summer league campaign saw them take on the Golden State Warriors. After an impressive third quarter, where they outscored the Warriors by 35 points to 22, the Knicks won by a score of 101-88. Despite some rustiness when it came to shooting, Grimes put up 24 points alongside 8 assists and 2 steals, illustrating how he would likely be the leader for the Knicks on both ends of the court. In addition to this, Feron Hunt had an efficient game, scoring 17 points on 8-12 shooting.
In their second game, the Knicks faced off against the Chicago Bulls. This game was most definitely the side’s best performance in the summer league, due to the margin of victory for the Knicks. The side rushed out to a 35-point first-half lead and never looked back, emerging as 101-69 victors. It may become repetitive, but Grimes was once again the standout performer for the Knicks. It was at this point that it became clear that he was simply a cut above the rest in the Summer League and is more than deserving of consistent minutes in an NBA rotation.
Game three saw the Knicks competing against the Portland Trailblazers, arguably the best side in the competition. Despite a tough 88-77 loss, Grimes once again stood out with yet another cool 24 point performance on efficient shooting. Despite the limelight being taken by Richard Jefferson making his officiating debut, it was still a promising performance for the Knicks. It was simply a lapse in focus in a second quarter they lost 28-12. Given that Summer League teams are so young, one shouldn’t look too far into poor quarters as weaker rotations mean that cold streaks can be more of a challenge to break out of.
In the Knicks’ fourth game, they took on the Orlando Magic it was business as usual, with the Floridian side only being ahead twice throughout the game. A 27-17 first quarter set the tone for the game, as the Knicks took home a 102-89 victory. The standout performers from the game were Jericho Sims and Miles McBride. McBride put up 23 points on 69% shooting from the field alongside 5 assists and 3 steals. The only small issue with his game was his 6 turnovers as ball security will be even lower during regular-season NBA games. Sims effectively anchored the defense, posting a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, 4 of which were offensive.
After finishing the summer league with a record of 3-1, the Knicks were invited to play in the Summer League championship game, in what would be a rematch against the Portland Trailblazers. Sadly, the Blazers’ use of a 3-2 zone defense proved too tough a nut to crack for the Knicks. After such a promising four games, the Knicks whimpered to an 85-77 defeat, with the side only scoring 30 first half points. The only real bright spark during this game was Miles McBride. He was able to score 17 points on 10 shots while being able to draw fouls at a high rate, resulting in him going 7-7 from the free-throw line.
In a similar light to the results of their first game against the Blazers, despite the loss, it was still a valiant effort against a side with many effective players with spots in NBA rotations, such as Keon Johnson, Brandon Williams, and Trendon Watford.
Overall, despite the summer league ending in disappointment, it would be flippant to label the campaign as anything but successful. Quentin Grimes was able to show that he is more than deserving of a place within the Knicks’ rotation. Jericho Sims was able to dominate from grit and grind perspective, highlighting how he will likely be able to carve out a role for himself within the Knicks’ line-up.
With respect to a potential deal involving Donovan Mitchell, the Summer League has done nothing but aid the Knicks. Given the fact that Grimes was a member of the all-Summer League team, his trade value has likely shot up. Despite the somewhat weak level of competition he was up against, he perfectly demonstrated how he can be an effective 3&D player in the league. Due to this, his higher trade value may mean the Knicks may end up having to part with less than initially expected if they were to include Grimes in a deal.