One of the more surprising results on the first night of full NBA action is the New York Knicks beating the Milwaukee Bucks 122-97. Not just that, but doing it while Carmelo Anthony is doing terribly? Turns out Kristaps Porzingis can be good right away, and adding Derrick Williams to the Phil Jackson rebuild project was a good idea.
Yes, we’re jumping to conclusions after just 48 minutes of basketball for the Knicks, but that’s a luxury we have. If we’re wrong, we can just change our minds, and nothing happens, right? But in all seriousness, the Knicks made some interesting and probably correct moves this offseason. It adds some much needed offense and experience to the team and the addition of Porzingis, which looked like a huge risk at the start, now seems a bit wiser and more solid.
Williams has been bounced around the league among different teams and roles. Under Derek Fisher he came off the bench to open his Knicks career and answered with 24 points in just 21 minutes, although possibly the most impressive thing was him getting off 17 shots in such a short time. He also grabbed 7 rebounds, in a game with 37 offensive rebounds combined between both teams and at least one side (the Knicks) producing some worthwhile interior defense.
Porzingis scored 16 points making his rookie debut, although most of them came from the line, making 9-of-12 shots. From the field he was just 3-of-11, taking some bad shots, which is part of the rookie or even the first two years experience. Jerian Grant, another rookie, finished with 10 points, and it’s not surprising to see him looking a lot more comfortable with the new league than Porzingis. Grant was considered one of the more NBA-ready prospects in the last draft.
And then there’s Anthony. While most debutants in various roles had a pretty solid start to their time with the Knicks (Arron Afflalo and Kevin Seraphin didn’t play), the one who this team has been building around for quite some time without too much success looked like he wanted the night to be over quickly. Anthony shot just 4-of-16 from the field to finish with 11 points. Usually that’s a death sentence for the Knicks, but turns out they can live through it.
The Bucks shot just 34.9% from the field, as adding Greg Monroe didn’t seem to help. Not having O.J. Mayo and Giannis Antetokounmpo on the floor obviously made it more difficult to showcase their usual ability, but either way, the basketball was bad from the Bucks, a team that looked very good defensively last season but struggled when it came to doing creative things offensively. Monroe did score 22 points with 14 rebounds, but key players like Khris Middleton and Michael Carter-Williams combined to shoot just 10-of-32 from the field.
The Knicks are going to need more than this, obviously, to show that they’re making a jump this season towards, who knows, respectability. But winning a game while having Anthony actually holding them back shows that the additions made this offseason have made them better and more ready for the possibility of him not being around.