Knicks Knocking on Opportunity’s Door
Posted Jul 16 2008 9:27PM
LAS VEGAS-- Danilo didn't play.
It was a precautionary measure -- he's expected to be back to full strength soon -- but one that already had an impact.
"Danilo's a great player," said teammate Wilson Chandler. "He's physical, has the ability to drive, and he's smart. We definitely missed him today."
But it's likely they'd have missed Chandler more. Through two games, he's been the Knicks' best player, averaging 18.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He's shown improved range on his jumper and has used his 6-foot-8 frame to alter shots and interfere with passing lanes.
The second-year forward has been more comfortable after a tough rookie year that forced him to mature. Chandler was out of the rotation for much of the season, averaging no more than 10 minutes per game through February. But he saw a huge uptick in minutes during the final two months, averaging 24 minutes per game in March and 28 in April.
The potential he showed then (12.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, .486 from the floor, .417 from three during April), and in the first two games here, impressed coach Mike D'Antoni, who expects Chandler to slot nicely into the system as a potential long-term starter. Chandler appreciates the vote of confidence, but is trying to maintain an even disposition.
"I'm not trying to do too much, just letting it come to me," he said. "Feeling confident, feeling comfortable and feeling comfortable with my teammates."
Brought in to provide a spark off the bench, Roberson initially impressed the Knicks at minicamp, earning the Summer League invite. He thought the system was a good fit for him, and had a strong debut, scoring 22 points on 8-for-19 shooting (3-of-8 3Ps). The second game (12 points, 4-of-13 FGs) was less productive, but Roberson remains focused on preparing for the upcoming season.
"The biggest thing with the NBA is knowing what your role and playing it to the best of your ability," Roberson said. "That's what I'm going to try to do, and that's all I've been trying to do from Day One."
Another Knick feeling out his role under the new regime is 2007 Summer League MVP Nate Robinson. The Knicks fourth-year guard enjoys the atmosphere, and is glad to be able to pass knowledge on to players there for the first time, advising them to absorb as much as possible.
He returned this time to get game experience in the new offense, with mixed results. Robinson finished with eight points (2-of-10 FGs, 1-of-6 3Ps), four assists and four rebounds, turning the ball over twice.
"Today was a decent run, decent game, and unfortunately, we lost," Robinson said. "But getting the feel for it, that's the main thing: repetitions and learning the plays. Going at 100 miles per hour, thinking at 100 miles per hour, that's something new for a lot of guys on our team and is going to take some getting used to. But we're right there ready for it. It's a challenge."