Though the New York Knicks are set to boast the oldest roster in NBA history this season, there are quite a few D-League alum and candidates fighting in training camp for New York's last guaranteed spot or two.
One of those young guns happens to be Mychel Thompson, the guard who spent last season with the Knicks' D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks.
The 24 year old certainly wasn't a shoe in to make the team by any means when he signed on for training camp. Similar familiarity the Knicks have with a couple of other prospects from their Summer League squad, as well as the late addition of veteran Rasheed Wallace to the roster, don't exactly put the odds in Thompson's favor.
But it could be his savvy skill set that just might. Thompson has often played alongside the Knicks' starters over this past week during scrimmages, and is dong his best to make a positive impression.
After starting Landry Fields at the two-guard for the past two seasons, it's no secret dominant scoring is not something the team looks for at the position. Instead, the Knicks benefited most from Fields' steady defense and strong fundamentals.
A son of a former NBA player, Thompson certainly doesn't lack any of that. What's more, his sweet stroke from behind the arc would help the team spread the floor, keeping opposing defenders honest at all times. The guard shot 41% from deep for the BayHawks last season, on his way to averaging 13.8 points per game. What's more, he showed defensive prowess too, filling up the stat sheet with 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per contest.
Among the NBA hopeful's competition for a spot on the Knicks include Louisville guard Chris Smith, brother of current Knickerbocker J.R. Smith. One may think New York would bring the younger Smith on board simply out of courtesy, but as it turns out, he will be sidelined up to 3-6 months following patella surgery.
Where one door closes, another one opens. Though the book hasn't been completely shut on Smith just yet, now is Thompson's time to shine. Already playing with the first unit in practice, it's clear there's intrigue from the Knicks surrounding the Pepperdine guard.
With so much offensive firepower all around the starting five (and even off the bench), New York is merely in need of a few key cogs to help their overall engine run smoothly. Lucky for Thompson, that's actually the type of niche D-League players are trained and developed in order to fill.
NBADL alum Danny Green found success in such a way with the Spurs last season. Playing alongside the likes of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli, things came all too easy for Green. The guard was able to emerge as a starter after displaying a nice complementary consistent shot from downtown, and parlayed his success into a multi-year contract with the team this past summer.
A player like Green has set the bar high, not just for Thompson, but D-League players all across the globe. That said, there's no need for Thompson to burst out of the cannon gunning for a spot in the starting five.
There's always pressure when competing for a strongly desired position, but Thompson should relax a bit, knowing all too well that the types of things he does on the court are exactly the types of skills and abilities the Knicks could hugely benefit from.
He simply needs to prove to them he's the type of player the team is looking for. The guard will have more of a chance to do that as the Knicks open up their preseason later tonight against the Wizards.