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NBA Preseason Preview: New Orleans Pelicans to get first look at Darius Miller and Nikola Mirotic against New York Knicks

Kenny Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier (!) are expected to highlight Knicks’ youth movement.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (0-2) will square off against the New York Knicks (2-0) inside Madison Square Garden on Friday evening. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and you should be able to catch the game on the Pelicans app if you’re within 75 miles of the Smoothie King Center or listen to the action on WRNO 99.5 FM.

With Kristaps Porzingis still on the mend following a torn left ACL last season, the Knicks plan to let the young guys run loose. Kenny Knox, the 9th pick, and Mitchell Robinson, the 36th pick, headline the young blood selected from the 2018 NBA Draft and they’ve looked good through the first two preseason games of their careers. However, New York’s leading scorer during exhibition play is Allonzo Trier, an undrafted rookie out of Arizona who is signed to one of the Knicks’ two-way contracts.

It’s been just two contests that don’t count for much, but Trier is averaging 19 points per game in 23.7 minutes of action. That’s damn impressive for an undrafted rookie, silly season or not! He has performed so well that Head Coach David Fizdale said the staff is considering the prospects of signing him to a regular league contract because he has earned it through the early portion of preseason.

The Knicks are expected to start Knox along with Enes Kanter, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway and a former New Orleans player, Lance Thomas. Other key contributors off the bench next to Robinson and Trier include Mario Hezonja, Noah Vonleh, Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina.

If things work out accordingly, expect a super high scoring affair. The Knicks are currently running at the 7th fastest clip in the preseason, and Fizdale is also a proponent of pace, space and ball movement.

The Pelicans are expected to use Darius Miller and Nikola Mirotic for the first time this season, but Julius Randle is listed as doubtful and Jahlil Okafor as out on the injury report.

Three Things to Watch

  1. Don’t be surprised if Mirotic replaces Randle in the starting lineup, and gives the coaching staff a chance to see how differently the team operates with their starting power forward from the 2018 postseason. Although I feel Randle has the slight edge on Mirotic for the starting role, Niko could make things interesting by getting off to a hot start. Outside of Jrue Holiday (62.5%), the only other Pelicans shooting better than 33% from three-point range thus far are two rookies: Frank Jackson (40%) and Trevon Bluiett (66.7%).
  2. With Miller’s return but two rotation bigs likely out of action, expect for Solomon Hill and Cheick Diallo to get a decent amount of run. That’s a good thing because both have failed to live up to early expectations. Hill has struggled immensely with his shot while Diallo has looked too passive. They both could use productive games.
  3. The small forward race between Garlon Green, Kenrich Williams and Troy Williams is too close to call right now as Gentry stated that none of the unguaranteed contracts have separated themselves from the pack. A couple of good games over the remaining three on the schedule could go a long way to solidifying a spot on the regular season roster or grabbing the Pelicans remaining two-way contract.

Geaux Pels — and no more preseason injury scares!!!

What: New Orleans Pelicans at New York Knicks

Where: Madison Square Garden

When: Friday, October 5, 2018, 6:30 p.m. Central

How: Pelicans App, 99.5 FM WRNO