5 questions the Knicks are facing as the regular season nears

Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks

The New York Knicks are preparing to play their first preseason game on Tuesday evening against the Indiana Pacers. With three preseason games until the regular campaign commences on October 19, the Knicks have a few lingering questions that will play a big part in the upcoming year.

Fives questions the Knicks are facing as regular-season draws near:

1.) How will Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose split minutes?

Veteran Derrick Rose already indicated that Kemba Walker would be the starting point guard to open the year, but that doesn’t show how Tom Thibodeau will utilize the duo.

Walker likely spends the majority of his time with the first team, but after playing in just 43 games last year, inserting Rose will be a frequent occurrence to mitigate fatigue over the course of a long 82-game season. Making sure both are entirely healthy is a priority for the Knicks, so expect Thibodeau to allow both to work with the first team depending on the scenario.

2.) What will Immanuel Quickley’s role be?

Immanuel Quickley emerged as one of the Knicks’ bright young players last season, but he will have to earn his way onto the floor this upcoming year. After averaging 11.4 points and shooting 40% from the field, Quickley will fill a shooting guard role. He will likely combo with Rose on the floor to maximize scoring efficiency (they had an excellent duo going last season).

Quickley’s best chance at earning more minutes is increasing his defensive attributes, which Thibodeau prefers from his players. There is no doubt that Quickley will come off the bench, and he will likely be fighting with Alec Burks for minutes.

3.) When will Mitchell Robinson make a return?

The Knicks are taking it slow with Mitchell Robinson, who suffered a broken hand and foot last season, forcing him to miss the majority of the season. Robinson only made 31 appearances, but at 23-years-old, he is nearly 100% healthy and ready to make a big comeback. The organization still has plenty of faith in his abilities to become one of the best defensive big men in the league.

“We’re following what our medical people are saying,’’ Thibodeau said. “There’s a plan in place. And we’re not going to rush, we’re going to take it step by step. That was the great value in having Nerlens and Taj. So we love the depth at that position. But we like where Mitch and the way he’s grown, professionally. We’re excited about the season, we’ll see how it unfolds but we’re not going to rush, we’re going step by step. He’s big part of what we’re doing.’’

I expect Robinson to be eased in at the start of the regular season, but they don’t want to rush him back and potentially risk re-injuring his foot.

4.) Can Kevin Knox make the active roster?

One player who is on the roster bubble is Kevin Knox, who has been unable to make an impact after being drafted in 2018. Knox has seen his minutes decrease every year, averaging just 11 last season over 42 games. He contributed just 3.9 points, 1.5 rebounds, and shot 39% from the field over just 3.4 attempts.

The Knicks have the roster space to give him a spot, but they might prefer to go with someone younger like Jericho Sims. The probability favors Knox, though, as Sims could benefit from a season with the G-League team. If Kevin is, in fact, able to retain a spot on the bench, this will be his last season in New York unless he takes an extravagant step forward, which is unlikely.

5.) How can Quentin Grimes/Miles McBride get involved?

The Knicks acquired both Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride in the most recent draft, and both offer significant strengths and weaknesses. Grimes is a strong defensive shooting guard who has plenty of developmental traits the Knicks love. However, McBride is a defense-first point guard from West Virginia, offering the biggest hands and wingspan of any player at his position of the most recent draft class.

It is no surprise that both harp on aggressive defense, which Thibodeau loves and prefers from his young players. Offering solid defense is a minimum requirement to get on the floor, and both are capable of scoring efficiently as well. During Summer League play, Grimes contributed 15.3 points, shooting 41.6% from the field and 40.7% from three-point range. He also offered 6.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists. With such a high rebound rate, it is an indication of his physicality and aggressiveness around the paint.

McBride, on the other hand, averaged 15.2 points, shooting 53.2% from the field and 50% from three-point range. He was an absolute menace from beyond the arc, proving why Thibodeau fell in love with him during the draft evaluation process.

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