The New York Knicks are gearing up for the start of the regular season on October 20, but not before two more preseason games.
Working out some of the kinks and developing chemistry between the new players on the roster is essential, but head coach Tom Thibodeau has already begun thinking about different combinations he will likely deploy during the 2021–22 campaign.
The starting five will likely be composed of Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, and Nerlens Noel, given Mitchell Robinson isn’t able to start.
However, the second team unit could go in various different directions, but Thibodeau already hinted at the possibility of a three-guard unit with interchangeable points.
The inclusion of second-year sharpshooter Immanuel Quickley is essential, as helping him develop and grow upon his rookie season remains a priority for the coaching staff. Thibodeau already sees a nice fit for Quickley alongside Alec Burks and Derrick Rose, who will likely be manning the second unit.
“The great value with (Quickley) is that he plays with Derrick and Alec, and so really the point (guard) is interchangeable with those guys. They move the ball and they make plays for each other real well,” Thibodeau said. “So, oftentimes, Quickley will bring it up. Derrick will bring it up. Alec could bring it up or we’ll get into dribble-handoffs. … We’re gonna fly around.”
The Knicks are going to get creative with their player combos:
Having multiple two-way guards in the same unit is unique, as the Knicks can rotate the ball adequately and operate out of different looks and sets. If Quickley takes the ball up the court, he may look to create an opportunity for himself, while Rose has the capability to facilitate and manage the floor as a general. Quickly has taken massive strides in his passing abilities, though, recordings a team-high 7.0 assists in the preseason win over the Indiana Pacers.
While Thibodeau plans to operate with these three guards at the same time, it begs the question, how will he get rookie Quentin Grimes involved?
Grimes performed well during Summer League play this off-season, averaging an impressive 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. He shot 41.6% from the field and 40.7% from three-point range, showing that his adaptation to the NBA is imminent.
Getting Grimes minutes will be difficult, but teams aren’t impervious to injuries, which is likely where he will gain the most experience when players are forced out or given a day off. As a rookie, he will be buying his time trying to learn from the veterans and develop an understanding of their strategies on both sides of the ball. Luckily, Grimes is known as an aggressive defensive player who closes out promptly, giving him a nice edge that Thibodeau prefers in his youngsters.