Jericho Sims has electric performance in Knicks’ summer league opener

Texas big man Jericho Sims, the rookie who signed a two-way contract earlier in the day, outperformed the Knicks' other three draft picks.

LAS VEGAS — Ironically, with all the bigger Knicks names on hand at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday for their summer league opener, the neon outing came from their unheralded 58th pick of the second round.

Texas big man Jericho Sims, the rookie who signed a two-way contract earlier in the day, was perfect — literally — and outperformed their other three draft picks.

Sims, the 6-foot-10 high-flyer who started at center versus Toronto, electrified as he made all six of his shots for 12 points and collected eight rebounds. The 22-year-old lit up the crowd with a late alley-oop dunk on a lob from Immanuel Quickley.

That was Quickley’s major highlight. Otherwise, Quickley (5 of 17) led a Knicks brickfest in their opener, losing a 89-79 blowout to Toronto.

The Knicks shot just 37 percent. Sims, all inside, shot 100 percent — a classic defensive specialist and rim-runner on offense.

Sims’ two-way contract means he can play a maximum 50 NBA games. If this is what he’s about, though, Sims’ two-way G League contract may be ripped up at some point during the season.

The Knicks’ Jericho Sims goes up for a shot during a summer league game on Sunday.
NBAE via Getty Images

“That’s what they had planned for me,’’ Sims said of his contract. “Right now. I can do other things, but [rim-runner] is what they want me to do right now.’’

That’s sort of the role the Knicks would want from their 2020 lottery pick, power forward Obi Toppin, who got off to a slow start Sunday, missing his first four shots but recovered. He finished with 24 points on 10 of 21 shooting but was just 2 of 10 from 3.

“Jericho, man, does he jump really high,’’ Toppin said. “Jericho is a sponge and loves to learn and get better. He’s going to be a really good player.’’

The scouting report has Sims as a defensive specialist, but he was active and productive on the offensive end, running the floor and hitting inside with poise.

Late in the opening half, he scored as a trailer on the fast break with a floater in the lane — a shot center Mitchell Robinson almost never attempts. Sims’ value will increase if the Knicks decide to trade Robinson before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

“I was content,’’ Sims said. “But it’s more about what we’re doing as a team.’’

Early in the second half, Sims grabbed a rebound and started a fast break on his own, showing some ballhandling skill. But the alley-oop on a pick-and-roll with Quickley with thre minutes left was the game’s highlight.

“I knew something like that was going to come,’’ Sims said. “They can’t guard us both.’’

Sims is a man of few words but he’s already acknowledged surprise he fell to 58 — the third-to-last pick of the draft.

“I was told anything can happen but I was told 25-to-40,’’ Sims said. “So … ’’

It was stunning the Knicks actually came away from the draft with potentially four rookies. It was presumed the Knicks might just trade the 58th pick after snatching Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride and Rokas Jokubaitis.

But trading a pick that deep is difficult because the return may have too many protections on it. And it became a no-brainer when Sims slipped to 58.

“I’m looking forward to getting as much experience as I can,’’ Sims said. “Whether that be in the G-League right now or the main roster.’’

Whether Sims actually plays with Westchester remains to be seen, but he’s not currently on the 15-man NBA roster.

“Jericho has the tools that can help us during the course of the year,’’ Knicks summer league coach Dice Yoshimoto said. “He’s put a lot of time in the gym, has done a great job at training camp.’’

As for the Knicks’ other three 2021 draft picks, first-rounder Grimes, selected 25th, scored on his first touch — a 3-pointer from the right wing — but finished with just nine points. Second-round pick McBride also added nine points.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman

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