One day after taking care of the Lakers 76-66 behind a strong defensive team effort, the Knicks (2-0) are back at it again with a match up against the 76ers. New York and Philadelphia tip-off at 5:30 pm ET so it’s more like a dinner-time start for east coasters, who can catch the game live on the Madison Square Garden network.
Similar to yesterday, this contest features lottery draft picks that should face off against each other. And even though Jerian Grant won’t get to play against his brother Jerami, a forward for the Sixers, he’ll still have a competitive battle against a familiar collegiate standout. Throw in a few Knicks’ that are potentially fighting for the last two spots on the 15-man roster and we’ve got another entertaining couple of hours coming up.
Here’s what to watch for today as Philly and NY square off in Las Vegas:
3rd overall pick Jahlil Okafor vs. 4th overall pick Kristaps Porzingis
The Zinger has another tough matchup on his hands after doing battling with Julius Randle of the Lakers last night. Jahlil Okafor was selected right before the Latvian big man in the 2015 NBA draft and has been one of the few bright spots for the 76ers this summer.
Many Knicks fans’ thought the team had a chance at drafting Okafor once L.A. took D’angelo Russell with the number two overall pick, but it wasn’t meant to be. Now they will get to an up close look at how New York’s newest center compares to probably the most polished big man in this year’s draft. Although it’s only summer league, this will be the stiffest test to date for Kristaps and should provide a decent idea at how NBA-ready he is when matched up against Okafor.
Jerian Grant vs. Former Arizona Standout T.J. McConnell
Grant won’t be playing against younger brother Jerami like the nostalgic Syracuse-Notre Dame days, but he and T.J. McConnell should have a good old fashioned point guard battle. The latter went undrafted this June and was a 2X member of the PAC-12 All-Defensive team and a 2015 AP honorable mention All-American. Additionally, McConnell transferred after his sophomore year which forced him to spend five total years in college, just like Grant.
This should be fun to watch because Jerian has the playmaking skills on offense and McConnell is a defensive specialist. Clearly the Knicks point guard has more all-around talent but T.J. is one of those grind-it-out players that are relentless and a tough competitor. If you haven’t seen him play, think Aaron Kraft, the former Ohio State point guard. Anyways, Grant will have to get used these tough match ups on a nightly basis and should be in for a good one today.
Knicks Big Men Battling for a Roster Spot
Both Alex Kirk and Maurice Ndour had impressive performances in New York’s Monday night win over the Lakers. Kirk is known for his defense but flashed a soft touch and quick release on his way to ten points. Ndour showed off his high-motor and athleticism making plays on the defensive side of the ball and finishing with a couple high-flying dunks.
With the Knicks only having 13 roster spots currently filled and guards Ricky Ledo and Langston Galloway on partially guaranteed deals, there may be room for one or two more players from this summer league team. Kirk and Ndour have a lot to play for trying to impress the Knicks front office to earn a further look. It should also be noted that although Thanasis Antetokounmpo isn’t a big man, he is battling for a final roster spot as well. He only got 12 minutes last night so let’s see if he gets a more extensive look against the Sixers today.