Jeremy Tyler is one of the most intriguing big men on the New York Knicks‘ preseason roster. He and his parents were hammered with criticism back in 2011 when he decided forego his senior year in high school and sign with Maccabi Haifa in the highly-competitive Israeli professional basketball league instead of playing for Rick Pitino at Louisville.
Things did not pan out very well there as he was called everything but a child of god by the coaching staff and teammates alike. He then began playing basketball in Japan in the following season, where his handlers may have believed a downgrade in competition might help his overall development.
While his field goal percentage had improved from from the 44 percent he shot in Israel to 52 percent, his offensive production vs. players he had a clear physical advantage over left much to be desired.
The Jeremy Tyler who played for the New York Knicks’ Summer League squad was an entirely different animal than the immature young man who played in Israel seemingly a century ago. He’s got the mid-range jump shot down (an essential weapon for the modern power forward), he can block shots, and he is athletic and strong.
However, I feel that at 6-foot-10 and weighing 260 pounds, he should be more dominant on the boards. That is especially frustrating when considering he has bunnies (slang for leaping ability). Also, though I have seen him dribble drive and finish with his left hand, he still relies on his right hand far too much. I didn’t see him take many jump hooks with his off hand, and the ones he did take were missed.
Additionally, his footwork is not quite where it needs to be. He loves to spin away from defenders and shoot the turnaround jumper over his right shoulder. But equally athletic big men will begin to squat that back in his face if he doesn’t come with a counter move. A ball fake or an up-and-under would be nice to see.
The Eastern Conference is getting bigger and stronger relative to the West. This is because teams believe strength and athleticism at the center spot are weaknesses of the Miami Heat that can be exploited, and are gearing up to take advantage of that.
If signed by the Knicks, Jeremy would be lucky to play 10 minutes per game barring a catastrophic rash of injuries to New York’s bigs, but stranger things have happened. However, after all the criticism he has endured in his career, I wish him the best, be he a Knick or not.
Ricardo Hazell is a freelance sports writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.