Knicks’ Miles McBride knows the recipe to playing time under Tom Thibodeau

“Toughness.” That’s the main word coaches, and talent evaluators use when describing Knicks‘ rookie point guard Miles McBride. Nicknamed “Duece,” the West Virginia standout is looking to make an impression this upcoming season, despite sitting behind Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker on the depth chart.

Just because McBride has himself an uphill battle to earn playing time in 2021 doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact in some way. The youngster has already started devising ways to find time on the court, but his Summer League performance so far has proved he’s more than capable.

“This is a league about creating opportunities and one of my strengths is defense,” he said, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “And that’s how I’m going to create opportunities for myself.”

In the Knicks’ victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, McBride recorded 23 points, the second-highest on the team. He shot 9-of-14 from the field, connecting on 64% of the shots. From deep, he hit 5-of-8 three-pointers, logging a 62.5% success rate. McBride also contributed five assists and four rebounds but did commit four turnovers.

With a healthy dosage of offense, McBride is already proving he can be an adequate PG at the NBA level. Despite his point totals, McBride knows his easiest path to playing time is defense, something he focused on at West Virginia under Bob Huggins.

“It’s just about wanting to get after guys,” he said. “I felt like playing for Coach (Bob) Huggins, one of the main reasons I went there is to play defense like that and learn more from him. It’s a lot about a want and having that mentality that I want to go play defense and I want to stop guys from scoring, instead of it’s just part of the game and I’m just out there to play.”

Fellow teammate Obi Toppin reverberated these words, indicating how important playing efficient and aggressive defense is under Thibodeau.

“We know what coach Thibs wants and that’s defense,” Toppin said. “We gotta make sure all of our rookies know that and they lock in on that.”

So far, the 36th overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft is living up to expectations if not exceeding them. McBride has all the tools to become a good player, and it is entirely dependent on his development from the coaching staff. Having Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose as mentors doesn’t hurt either, and they should offer him essential tips and tricks to making positive progress during his rookie season.