With the regular season now less than a week away for most NBA squads, it's officially time for each one to mold a fifteen man roster. Who from training camp made surprising impressions? Which non-guarantees did enough to warrant staying on with their respective clubs?
If such decisions haven't been made already, it's a certainty teams will be making crucial cuts in the coming days.
But that doesn't mean it's the end of the road for each and every young gun that's let loose. If they've caught the eye of an NBA team for all the right reasons, a select few prospects will be asked to join a D-League affiliate, so that the big league club can have a closer look during their development. With this in mind, who will the Knicks opt to send to the Erie BayHawks?
Should Chris Copeland and Rasheed Wallace snag the last two spots on the Knicks, three promising prospects (Mychel Thompson, Henry Sims, and John Shurna) will be up for consideration to sign with Erie.
Perhaps the more polished out of the three, Thompson struggled to get into a groove offensively this preseason. He was, however, on the floor late in the game during the Knicks' final preseason win over the Nets, pouring in 13 points (on 3 of 7 shooting from downtown), and coming up with two steals. After spending time with Erie last season, the guard earned a call-up with the Cavs. Despite his underwhelming start with New York, he is arguably the most ready candidate for an NBA roster.
But should the Knicks value need over pure talent, Thompson could very well be squeezed out anyway. With so many injuries in the team's front court, Copeland and Wallace seem like logical choices to fill out the roster. Even if the team decided to look another player's way, Sims could end up edging Thompson out largely in part due to his size. After shooting 43% from down town with the BayHawks last season, the Pepperdine alum would surely be welcomed back to Erie this season. That is, of course, if another NBA squad fails to pick up on sharpshooting beforehand.
Sims showed a lot of promise this preseason, and appears to be exactly the type of player the NBADL is used to helping along. He's a raw prospect. Though he still has an outside chance to make the Knicks due to the position he plays, the Georgetown alum really just needs a place to gain experience, and Erie could be that very location.
The big man has good hands, can crash the boards, and likes to hustle on defense. As a player who seems to enjoy doing all the little things, he already understands how to complement a team's stars. When given a chance this preseason, Sims delivered. In 20 minutes against the Nets on Wednesday, Sims grabbed 5 rebounds, blocked two shots, and made two field goals. In the sole other game he managed to play more than 10 minutes, the big man scored 9 points and pulled down 3 boards on October 21st against the Celtics. He has the tools to be an NBA player, it's just a point of taking time to own those skills. The 22 year old could use a stint with the BayHawks to do so, and may find himself on an NBA roster on some point during the season.
With Thompson and Sims as two likely candidates to catch on with the Knicks' D-League squad, that still leaves room for John Shurna. The lengthy sharpshooter fell short of expectations this preseason, but the team still appreciates his skill set. Heralded as a "Steve Novak Jr." of sorts, Shurna's main strength comes from his ability to help spread the floor and knock down the long range daggers. Perhaps a combination of not getting enough playing time, and tensing up during the pressures of the big moment, the forward never did seem to cash in on his opportunity.
That said, there's a spot for a player of Shurna's talents on every NBA roster. He can add value to a team. Should the Knicks not reserve a spot for the injured Chris Smith (NBA and Knickerbocker swingman J.R. Smith's brother), Shurna represents a worthy enough player to be given another look in Erie to see if he really has what it takes. Given the Knicks' refreshing success with Novak, keeping an eye on his second-coming wouldn't be a bad idea.
There are plenty of cuts from NBA teams to take place in the coming days, and perhaps just as many D-League assignments/signings to follow. It'll be interesting to see who each squad chooses to hold on to, but Thompson, Sims, and Shurna, would be strong picks for the Knicks.