New York Knicks: 2 keys to beating the Oklahoma Thunder

New York Knicks, Immanuel Quickley
Jan 22, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) dribbles past Sacramento Kings guard Cory Joseph (9) in the first quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are coming off a tough loss to the Milwaukee Bucks by 33 points. Without Derrick Rose as the starting point guard, New York struggled to get things going on both sides of the ball. All-Star Julius Randle had just seven points, showcasing his worst performance to date. He believes it was an anomaly, and I would tend to agree with him based on the simple fact that he’s averaging 22.8 points this season.

Teams are realizing that stopping him is the key to success against the Knicks, so double-teaming him and forcing turnovers has been successful at times.

However, in the absence of Rose, the Knicks need somebody to step up at point guard, and while the Thunder are sub .500, New York needs to be careful with how they approach this game.

Two keys to beating the Oklahoma Thunder for the New York Knicks:

1.) Someone must step up at point guard

Against Milwaukee, Elfrid Payton got the start at point guard, scoring 10 points and recording three assists. Immanuel Quickley had 15 points, shooting 3-for-10 and 3-for-8 from three-pointer. He didn’t have a single assist, playing more of a shooting guard role than leading the offense with court vision. Recently, head coach Tom Thibodeau said that Quickley needs to develop some parts of his point guard repertoire, so I expect Payton to get the start against Oklahoma.

Payton is capable of putting together solid performances, especially on defense, but he doesn’t offer much offensively, something that Rose is more efficient in. While Milwaukee is a superior team, the Knicks simply played terribly out of the gate, with most of their quality players struggling to get things going. RJ Barrett had a phenomenal performance, though, scoring 22 points.

2.) Stop Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 

The Thunder have one standout player who is playing above expectations this year, and his name is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Shai is averaging 23.5 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.0 rebounds this year. He is their offensive powerhouse, with the next best scorer averaging just 14.3 points. They rely on him significantly to spur offensive production, and with the Thunder coming off two conservative wins, the Knicks need to play good defense and shut down Gilgeous-Alexander.