Changing of the (Knicks) guard: Miles McBride’s time has come

Miles McBride, Knicks
Feb 5, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout his dog days in New York, Miles McBride’s confidence didn’t fall even for once. Thanks to his veteran mentor, Derrick Rose, McBride stayed confident and ready.

“Derrick (Rose) has been great to me. The past two years, he always tells me to stay ready, ‘your time’s gonna come,’ and he knows I’m a hard worker and very coachable, so whenever my number is called, I’m gonna be ready.”

Miles McBride after Wednesday’s shootaround via Knicks digital

Now, the second-year guard’s time has come.

McBride has supplanted his mentor in the latest reshuffling as Tom Thibodeau continues to search for the right combination to get the Knicks going.

On Sunday, against one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams and the star they coveted last summer, it seems Thibodeau found the right one. And with McBride playing a big part.

McBride teamed up with Immanuel Quickley in the second unit’s backcourt, which gave Thibodeau a stout perimeter and point-of-attack defense that helped slow down the Cavaliers’ All-Star backcourt in a signature 92-81 win.

For the first time this season, the Knicks held an opponent to less than 100 points.

McBride held Garland and Mitchell scoreless in six attempts when he was their primary defender. His 66.7 defensive rating was Sunday’s best in the NBA.

“Every team needs a guy that’s just going to come out there and do a lot of dirty work and be able to guard some of the guys that need to be stopped. So, if I can bring that to the [Knicks], I think that’s going to be a huge help.”

Miles McBride after Wednesday’s shootaround via Knicks digital

McBride makes up for his undersized height — 6-1 without shoes and 6-2.5 with shoes — with his 6-foot, 8.75-inch wingspan and a standing reach at 8 feet, 3.25 inches. But more than those physical attributes, his defensive instincts were honed by one of the toughest coaches in college basketball, Hall of Famer Bob Huggins.

His football background (McBride played quarterback in high school) also helped him cultivate toughness.

While McBride has been a pest on defense, his offense is still a work in progress.

He is 0 for 6 in the Knicks’ back-to-back games over the weekend, but McBride is unfazed. McBride believes his shots, especially his signature midrange jumper in college, will eventually fall in the NBA.

“Continue to work as hard as I can. I mean, it’s really simple, honestly. There’s no secret recipe to what I do. I just continue to grind and know [the] shots are going to fall. You’re going to miss some shots as a part of the game so, [I’m] just staying confident in myself and believing in myself. …I’m going to attack each challenge like I always have.”

Miles McBride after Wednesday’s shootaround via Knicks digital

The Knicks sent him down again to the G League a day after their win over the Cavaliers to get more reps.

As usual, McBride was too good for the developmental league as he easily scored 20 points on 8 of 13 shots, including 4 for 6 from deep, and had 12 assists without a single turnover.

“I’m not going to run from any opportunity.”

Miles McBride after Wednesday’s shootaround via Knicks digital

McBride has waited for this opportunity since he was drafted in the second round in last year’s draft. He remembers every team that passed on him.

Now that his time has come, he wants them to remember him for stopping their best backcourt player.

After Mitchell and Garland, his eyes are locked on Atlanta’s star Trae Young.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo