The New York Knicks announced a massive change on Monday regarding the starting point guard position, formally held by Kemba Walker, their free-agent acquisition. Walker has struggled considerably in recent days, recording double-digit points just once in his last five games. In fact, the month of November has treated him poorly, shooting 39% from the field and a measly 29.6% from three-point range.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau announced that Alec Burks will be taking over the starting point guard job, as Kemba walker was dropped from the rotation, making him a depth piece.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau tells reporters that Kemba Walker is out of the rotation, and Alec Burks will remain the starting point guard.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 29, 2021
What does Alec Burks offer the Knicks’ starting team?
Burks is an intriguing player, having experience at guard and forward. At 30-years-old, Alec signed a three-year, $30 million deal this past off-season with New York, after averaging 12.7 points and 2.2 assists during the 2020-21 season. He shot 42% from the field and 41.5% from three-point range, and heâ€™s finishing even more consistently this year.
Over 20 games this season, Burks is averaging 10.5 points over 22.3 minutes, slightly less than his statistics a year ago, but heâ€™s more efficient shooting. Heâ€™s connecting on 42.6% of his shots from the field and 45% of the shots from deep, giving him far superior numbers compared to Walker.
In the month of November, Burks is shooting 47% from three-point range and 43.9% from the field, recording double-digit points in five of his last six games, including 23 points in the team’s most recent victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
The biggest difference between Burks and Walker is the defensive effort. Burks is a bit taller at 6’6″ and 214 pounds, playing more resilient defense and offering more energy. When Walker is failing to score efficiently, heâ€™s virtually useless on the court, which disrupts the flow of the team, especially with power forward Julius Randle.
In Burks’s first game as the starting PG, three of the Knicks’ starters recorded double-digit points, including 20 from Evan Fournier and 15 from RJ Barrett. Randle finished with just eight points, but contributed 11 rebounds and played adequate defense.
The efficiency and production of Burks allow the second team to feature in a normal role, whereas they were forced to pick up the slack in recent days due to the starting team’s deficiencies.
While this change comes as a surprise, Thibodeau had to make a move, with Kemba struggling so much to develop chemistry with his new teammates. In addition, the Knicks are dead last in fast-break points when Walker is on the court and an unsustainable statistic that has significantly burdened the team.