Knicks have a serious point guard problem they need to address

alec burks, knicks

The New York Knicks have been heavily relying on RJ Barrett to carry the load since the start of the new year, but their point guard issues are becoming a legitimate problem with the absence of Derrick Rose.

Rose is back traveling with the team, but he still several weeks away from being eligible to return due to an ankle injury that required surgery prior to the start of 2022. Without his talents, the Knicks have struggled considerably to move the ball efficiently and control the offensive flow.

The Knicks currently ranked 24th in points per possession this season, struggling to start games hot and trying to fight back from massive deficits in the second half. Whether that be a result of poor offensive management or a lack of chemistry, you can point to a myriad of different factors impacting the success of the team at this point in the season.

Tom Thibodeau has failed to create an offensive identity for his team, injecting players with different strengths and weaknesses that don’t necessarily mesh. Take a look at Obi Toppin, for example, a player who thrives off transition but lacks a purebred passing point guard to facilitate.

The team has tried to mold Immanuel Quickley into that player, but with Toppin’s inability to shoot from three-point range, his capabilities are hyper-focused to the transition game.

It is clear that the team expected Julius Randle to be more of a threat from beyond the arc this season after posting 40+ percent during the 2020-21 campaign. Nonetheless, he’s struggled in that category, relying on his isolation and physicality inside to produce the majority of his points.

The biggest issue remains a point guard for the Knicks:

Alec Burks and Kemba Walker simply aren’t getting it done at a high level, and without Rose, the Knicks don’t have a choice but to continue rolling with them unless they make a trade deadline move.

Fred Katz of The Athletic unearthed an interesting statistic regarding the Knicks’ point guards:

Get this: The Knicks average 19.4 seconds on possessions when Burks brings the ball up, which ranks dead last among the 88 players who have initiated at least 500 possessions this season, according to information compiled by Second Spectrum and supplied to The Athletic. Walker, meanwhile, is second to last among those 88.

The statistic points toward a lack of speed and pace from the point guards, which heavily mitigates the impact of Toppin and others.

Their slow buildup of play allows defenses to set and play with equal numbers. The Knicks need to adapt to their player’s strengths, activating transition basketball and feeding the ball to Toppin and RJ Barrett — the latter has been phenomenal driving the lane in recent days.

Unfortunately, the Knicks have been unable to establish a true identity this season. Despite relying heavily on analytics, they seem to be missing several key points that continue to hold the team back offensively.