The Knicks were officially eliminated from the playoffs Wednesday, but they’ve been evaluating their young players for a while and seeing who they would like back next season.
They have six rookies. Here’s an Eastern Conference scout’s view on those players:
Scout’s take: “He’s got a good skill set. He understands who he is as a player and plays to his strengths. He plays below the rim. He’s doesn’t’ have great lateral quickness but he’s a really good solid backup center, good player. He’s a rotation player. He’s had a good rookie year. He actually fits into the triangle. He’s got good hands. He finishes with either hand. He’s got good footwork. He doesn’t give you any rim protection. I see him as a good piece, a definite piece. He’s a good solid player.”
Scout’s take: “He knows how to play. He plays with good intensity every night. You can get away with playing him at both guard positions. Just a solid guy to have on your team. He’s an NBA player. I don’t know as the team gets better if he’s a roster guy that can play in the rotation at times or he’s a rotation player. He’s a good defender. He’s got a high-basketball IQ. He has to be more consistent with his threes. He attacks the rim and has a good feel for how to run a team. He’s got a lot of positives.”
Scout’s take: “At 27, what would scare me is this who he is? He gets knocked around too easy. He has good skills. He’s had his moments this year. I think you just got to see how he advances next year. I think he’s got to get stronger to be a factor. I think he’s a roster guy. You just have to see if he grows or he doesn’t. But he’s 27. What’s to think he’s going to get stronger now?”
Scout’s take: “He’s a high-energy guy, a hard-working guy you got at the end of your bench. What he is is what he is. He’s not moving up the bench. If he is, you’re not going to be very good.”
Scout’s take: “I’m not sure about Randle. He hasn’t done anything for me to just pop out and say this guy is going to be a good roster player or rotation player. He’s got a ways to go.”
Scout’s take: “He’s a nice guy to have around as a 15th guy or on your D-League team. You can call him up. You know he’s going to play hard and with energy. But I don’t see him being a factor.”
Give resting it a rest
Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton, who didn’t miss a game in 17 of his 19 NBA seasons, is vehemently against players resting when they’re healthy. Stockton told a story recently about going to a baseball game to see a certain player – who he wouldn’t name – and the guy rested.
“I was incensed,” Stockton said. “I’ve never rooted or really particularly cared for that guy since.”
Stockton said he believes resting affects your mental and physical toughness and preparation, and that professional athletes “have a duty to be present and lay our best out there every night,” especially since “people pay to see guys.”
Stockton, who played in every game his last five years in the league, hopes the league figures out how to put a stop healthy players resting.
Portland hadn’t clinched anything, yet its players talked big after beating the Nuggets and taking a lead for the final playoff spot out West earlier this week.
But Damian Lillard put the victory this way: “This was a battle for the keys to the car. We got the keys. Now we got to control where it’s going.”
Jusuf Nurkic, who was traded from Denver to Portland Feb. 13, showed even more bravado after scoring a career-high 33 points to go with 16 rebounds and three blocks against his old team.
“When I came here and I said we would be a playoff team,” Nurkic said. “Now we’re up there. And I wish those guys a happy summer.”
The deal looks like a steal for the Blazers. They got a keeper in Nurkic, and also a first-round pick for Mason Plumlee. Nurkic has averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds with Portland after producing 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds with the Nuggets. Portland is 14-5 when Nurkic starts.
But Portland lost Nurkic Thursday with a non-displaced leg fracture. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Give and go
* Onetime Knick and former Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks guided the Wizards to their first division title in 38 years.
* Steve Kerr reached 200 wins faster than any coach in NBA history, needing only 238 games. Jackson, who nearly hired Kerr, held the mark. He did it in 270 games with the Bulls.
* MVP candidate James Harden became the first player in NBA history to score at least 2,000 points and assist on 2,000 points in the same season – thanks to the three-pointer. Houston set an NBA single-season record for threes made.
* The Spurs’ 20 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs is the longest active streak in pro sports now that the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings were eliminated after reaching the postseason 25 straight years.
Spo knows basketball
Miami Erik Spoelstra is doing his best coaching job, and maybe the best one in the league this season.
After starting 11-30, Miami is 37-39 and tied for seventh in the East. The Heat’s next win would set a record for most victories for a team that was at least 19 games under .500 that season.
The 2013-14 Knicks finished 37-45 after being 21-40. They missed the playoffs by one game that year. Phil Jackson ultimately broke up that team.
Houston’s Mike D’Antoni has been the Coach of the Year frontrunner all season, but Spoesltra deserves strong consideration for getting the most out of less.