The New York Knicks opened their preseason schedule in the state’s capital of Albany on Sunday night with an 1115-107 win over the Nets. It was the start of a journey that they hope will lead to the franchise’s first playoff appearance since the 2003-04 season, when Isiah Thomas, just beginning his tenure as the team’s president, unceremoniously replaced Don Chaney with Lenny Wilkens. Yes, it seems that long ago.

Jordan Hill was only 16-years-old at the time and did not fathom his destiny would lead him to being a lottery pick, selected by the Knicks eighth overall in last June’s draft. The 6-10 rookie, who elicited comparisons to the Phoenix Suns’ all-star forward Amare Stoudemire coming into the draft, already has learned a few lessons that will serve him well in his quest to earn playing time.”I definitely have to get in better shape,” admitted the former University of Arizona standout prior to heading to his first training camp as a pro. “I thought I was in decent shape when I was playing in the {Las Vegas} summer league, but I know I’m going to have to get up and down the court playing in this system.”Indeed Knicks president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D’Antoni view Hill’s ability to run the floor as one of his strengths. The Atlanta native’s profile reads that he has superior athleticism but still has a lot to grasp about the complexities of the NBA game.”In college, a lot of times you can just get by on your ability alone,” said Hill. “It’s not like that here. There are so many little things you have to learn and I realize that you have to be prepared both mentally and physically.Against the Nets, Hill’s greenness was evident. He looked unsure of where he supposed to be in certain offensive sets and missed seven of eight shot attempts. But it’s far too early to know if Hill is more Stoudemire than stiff.