When the New York Knicks settled on a one-year, $5 million deal with Elfrid Payton, everybody in the fan base gave a simultaneous sigh of mediocrity. Payton is a good filler and back up option, but he isn’t a trustworthy starter, clearly.
So far this season, he’s averaging 13.5 points and a .448 percentage from the field. On most days, he’s a body on the court who can convert layups occasionally. He has flashes of quality, but the inconsistencies are glaring.
In fact, most teams don’t even bother to guard him when he standing at the top of the arc, waiting patiently for a pass to come his way so he can airball a three-pointer.
The Knicks knew that point guard would be a position of weakness heading into 2021, and they did virtually nothing to solve it. You could make the argument that Immanuel Quickley is their solution, but he is still young and learning the NBA game. They are being forced to settle with Payton as a primary starter, but over the past few games, head coach Tom Thibodeau has realized that Quickley is their best option.
Against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday evening, the Knicks lost 103-106, with Payton scoring nine points and turning the ball over three times. Quickley, on the other hand, scored 23 points and turned the ball over once. He also recorded four assists, showing off a bit more vision on the court. He connected on 9-of-17 field goals and 3-of-7 deep balls.
Ultimately, it is becoming clear that Quickley should be starting a point guard, playing in 28 minutes this past game. He is agile and has aggressive energy, which is exactly what Thibodeau wants on the floor at any given moment.
Despite his rise, the Knicks could look to free agency help at the position, as former Washington Wizard Isaiah Thomas has made himself available.
Free agent guard Isaiah Thomas tells @YahooSports he’s in communication with a handful of teams about an NBA return and says he recently hired Bernie Lee of Quartexx Basketball for representation.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) January 15, 2021
Last year, Thomas averaged 12.2 points over 23.1 minutes per contest. He hit on .408% of his shots and attempted 4.73 pointers, coming in at .413 from downtown. He’s a solid three-point shooter, which is exactly what the Knicks desperately need as teams simply don’t respect their ability to connect in that category. He might be a cheaper option the Knicks can take a flyer on, especially with Payton struggling.