The Westchester Knicks have many talented players that have helped the team produce wins following a 1-6 start. Westchester has gone 13-9 since then, which includes an 6-4 record in their last 10 games. The team has seen great production from their two-way players and Ignas Brazdeikis, who has made 15 appearances in Westchester in his rookie season.
Andrew White III had many stellar shooting games and has started all but one game. Zak Irvin is the next Knick that started more than 15 games and has made an impact in his role.
While the starters are a main reason of the team’s success, the bench deserves credit as well. When the two-way and assignment players aren't with the team, along with others who may earn NBA call-ups, the players who are coming off the bench will step into a larger role and will look to keep the success train rolling.
Per the Westchester Knicks, the Knicks bench has scored 1,236 points of the team’s 3,144 points this season, as of January 29. Westchester’s reserves account for 39.3 percent of the team’s offense. The Knicks bench has also outscored their opponent’s reserves 22 of 29 times.
While Lamar Peters has started 53.8 percent of his games, he continues to be a productive player in the second unit. While he has started eight of the past 10 games and is playing towards a call-up, Peters provided a spark in the second unit with Kadeem Allen in the starting rotation. The rookie guard has affected the game with his playmaking, shot making, and his defense.
“With all of us coming off the bench, I feel like it’s big because you got some really good guys coming off the bench,” Peters said. “Kenny (Wooten) is our energy guy. Amir (Hinton) is coming in here for scoring. I can play the one and I play both sides, defense and offense, so I feel like it’s great for us. On offense, the first unit can come out and start and we can just come in and clean it up. We just got to do a better job and not starting slow.”
J.J. Moore has made a significant impact in the second unit. His contribution on the team is seen on the court and off the court. The veteran forward has shown to be a willing defender, takes charges, and is a leader on a young team. One of the notable things Moore does is he waits at the scorers table and daps up his teammates before the game tips off.
From an offensive standpoint, he is credited with 27.9 percent of the bench’s offense (346/1,236 points), per the Westchester Knicks. Moore has been an efficient shooter this season where he is averaging 11.9 points on 49.2 percent shooting from the field and 42.6 percent from beyond the arc.
While the team had the youngest average age on their opening night roster (23.9 years) in franchise history tied with the 2017-18 season, Moore believes the team has a nice core and they’re getting their stuff together.
“Our skills, starting and off the bench, we got a nice core,” Moore said. “We’re young, but we’re getting our stuff together and we’re going to keep it up at the same time.”
Westchester has a young team and has worked on developing chemistry with the hopes of that leading to success on the court. Kenny Wooten feels that the team being close off the court has translated to the game.
“The crazy thing is we’re all really close off the court and I feel like that really translates over to the game,” Wooten said. “I feel like we all know what we do well. I feel like we all know each other’s game, so we just really complement each other’s game. I feel like we all play our roles very well and we all don’t try to do anything we’re not comfortable doing.”
Tyler Hall has made a contribution in Westchester with his perimeter shooting and basketball IQ. He has come off the bench in 17 of the Knicks’ 27 games and has shown to play well off the ball. Hall has shown his confidence with his outside game and the team counts on him to make shots. The rookie guard is averaging 8.6 points on 43.8 percent shooting from deep on 4.7 attempts as a reserve.
Tim Bond has seen quality playing time this season. He has made an impact due to his shooting, ability to make plays for himself and others, and his defense. When Bond made his first start against the Raptors 905, he capitalized on his opportunity and was thrusted into the role as the team’s main facilitator, as he dished five assists. He would push the ball in transition, especially after Westchester got stops on defense.
Westchester head coach Derrick Alston detailed what he see from his bench and how they’re able to be effective on the floor.
“All the guys are actually playing well together,” Alston said. “Whatever line-up I put out there, the guys are just playing the right way. We always talk about making good-to-great passes. You got a decent shot and you see somebody who is wide open, you make a pass for the better shot. I think we’re really starting to buy into that. Amir (Hinton) and J.J. (Moore) all have been stepping up. Giving us some great minutes. Some great defensive minutes.”
Westchester went 2-7 in November and started to gel and build a rhythm in December by going 6-4. One part of Westchester that Ivan Rabb pointed to that looked different from month one to month two was the team’s bench.
“Our bench has stepped up,” Rabb said. “We have guys consistently come off the bench making something happen. It might be a different guy every night. Or two or three different guys. Guys are coming off the bench scoring, getting steals, and blocks. All types of stuff. Everybody has stepped up their level of play. From Kenny (Wooten). Tyler (Hall). L.P (Lamar Peters). I can go on and on. Drew (Andrew White III). I mean everybody has been playing a lot better and it just comes from pushing each other in practice.”
Both two-way players Kadeem Allen and Kenny Wooten are likely to see time with the New York Knicks at some point this season. Lamar Peters is another Westchester Knick that could find himself on an NBA roster due to his strong play this season. With a few Knicks positioning themselves for an NBA call-up, that will open up opportunities for bench players to step into a larger role and have success.