Recent Knicks lottery picks Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina appear to be fully out of New York’s rotation when it comes to logging meaningful minutes, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. The downside of head coach Tom Thibodeau barely using either player, even in light of swingman Alec Burks‘s recent coronavirus-mandated absence, is that neither man has been able to showcase much on-court value to garner much trade traction this offseason.
Despite the players’ limited in-game exposure, teammates have applauded their preparedness. “One thing about those guys is they’re coming in every day, they’re one of the first guys in the gym,’’ Knicks bench big man Taj Gibson said of the two former lottery picks. “At night, when I come back in at night, they’re one of the first faces I see in the gym at night. They’re always ready. They do whatever the team needs.”
“They work extremely hard,” applauded Knicks forward RJ Barrett. “I just saw Kevin out there on the court dripping in sweat getting the work in. When they’ve gotten their opportunity they’ve done extremely well.’’
There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:
- In opting to ink undrafted rookie power forward Freddie Gillespie to a two-year contract after his two 10-day deals with the Raptors expired, the team is clearly buying low on a promising backup prospect, writes Dave Feschuck of the Toronto Star.
- The promising in-season development of rookie Raptors point guard Malachi Flynn could wind up being a factor in how the franchise evaluates the future of longtime Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry, writes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. An unrestricted free agent in 2021, Lowry is expected to receive serious interest from contenders. Smith notes that if Flynn continues along his current growth pace heading into the 2021/22 season, the Raptors could be more comfortable moving on from Lowry. “He’s running the team better,” head coach Nick Nurse said of Flynn’s recent play. “He’s play-calling. He’s getting people organized. He’s getting off the ball. He’s getting in the paint. He’s getting to the rim. Those are all additions to the way he started out, I think.”
- Second-year Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle has played himself into consideration for inclusion on one of the league’s All-Defensive Teams, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Despite averaging just 20.0 MPG, Thybulle ranks ninth in SPG (1.59), seventh in deflections per game (3.1), and 24th in BPG (1.1). “His length, No. 1, and his ability to close reminds me a lot of [NFL cornerback] Deion Sanders,” head coach Doc Rivers raved. “Deion always gave guys cushions, and [opposing] quarterbacks never threw it because they knew if they did, somehow he would get there.”