Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter|
Iggy Brazdeikis believes he's the best player on any court he steps on.
That was certainly true at the Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday night.
Brazdeikis, the Knicks' second round pick, scored 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting and had eight rebounds in New York's overtime loss to Phoenix.
His performance may have surprised some casual NBA fans. But Knicks Summer League head coach Jud Buechler said coaches have seen Brazdeikas play the same way during practice this week.
"He's a fighter, he's a scrapper, he's not afraid of anything or anyone," Buechler said.
It's silly to overreact to anything you see in Summer League -- good or bad (more on that regarding RJ Barrett's shooting below). But Brazdeikas' performance on Sunday suggests that the Knicks may have found another player late in the draft. Last year, they selected Mitchell Robinson with the No. 36 overall pick. They drafted Brazdeikis with the 47th overall pick, obtained in a draft-night trade with Sacramento.
Robinson, of course, made the NBA's All Rookie second team last season and has looked dominant in two Summer League games. He had 17 points, nine rebounds and two blocks against Phoenix.
Again, it's foolish to overreact to Summer League. But Robinson's play in two games in Vegas suggests that he's primed for a strong sophomore season. Another encouraging sign? Kevin Knox has hit six of 11 three-point attempts. It would be a wild overreaction to suggest that Knox is going to be a lights out shooter in Year 2, but his shooting is a positive sign for New York.
Speaking of Summer League overreactions, let's not get carried away analyzing Barrett's first two games in Las Vegas. Barrett struggled with his shot against Phoenix on Sunday, missing 12 of 15 attempts and turning it over eight times. Those aren't inspiring numbers, particularly when you combine them with his 4-for-18 performance in New York's Summer League opener.
Obviously, the Knicks and their fans would prefer to see Barrett, the No. 3 overall pick, dominate in Summer League. But there's also no reason to draw any strong conclusions off of Barrett's first two games here.
Here's what Buechler said when asked to assess Barrett's performance on Sunday: "RJ's figuring it out…. This has been a ton of pressure on him coming in here, especially with the hype of the last game.
He's done some great things. He had a bunch of rebounds tonight (10). He made a really nice defensive play at the end of the game. The shooting will come. We're not worried about that. We're telling him to stay aggressive and, as you can tell, he's not backing away at all. He believes in it, we believe in it and it will come."
Here's what Brazdeikis said about Barrett, someone he played with regularly while growing up in Canada.
"He's one of the best players I've ever seen or played with," Brazdeikis said. "It's only a matter of time before he starts being himself and getting buckets. There's literally no doubt in my mind that he's going to get there and very soon too."
The Knicks and Barrett finish up the "regular season" portion of Summer League on Tuesday and Wednesday.