The New York Knicks are beyond the point of babysitting. They’ve signed multiple pricey free agents and will be looking to utilize their talent instead of prioritizing the development of their youth.
The 2018 season was used as such — allowing options like Kevin Knox, Allonzo Trier, Mitchell Robinson, Damyean Dotson and more to rack up minutes with no consequences of failure. This upcoming season will be different. The front office wont hold back from playing the best players and we have to be ready to see options like Knox struggle to get on the court.
While we saw good things from Knox this past Summer League, the struggles will emerge again as they did last season. Whether he can fight through them or not is the question. However, just because the Knicks brought in players like Julius Randle and Marcus Morris doesn’t mean they can’t rotate frequently to ensure their players are gaining essential experience.
Building chemistry will also be a hurdle they must face head-on. Meshing rookies and youth with veterans isn’t always smooth, it will take playing time together to really help the team develop a cohesiveness.
I anticipate head coach David Fizdale favoring the players with the most potential at this point. He will undoubtedly start Randle, Morris, Robinson, and Dennis Smith Jr. The final slot could be handed to Knox, Dotson, Trier, Barrett…
Barrett, a 6-foot-7 winger, will earn his fair share of minutes, but his potential actually poses a problem for Fizdale who will have to floor an everyday lineup with a concentration of talent at power forward. Fizdale has been criticized in the past for his lineups — he consistently played Emmanuel Mudiay over Frank Ntilikina who absolutely ‘needed’ playing time.
Finding a balance for Barrett, Robinson, Knox, Trier, Smith Jr., Ignas Brazdeikis, and veterans Elfrid Payton, Taj Gibson, Morris, Randle, and Bobby Portis will be difficult. They also have Wayne Ellington, a three-point sharpshooter.
The reality of the situation is that the Knicks could very well be a .500 team if they rely on the veterans. However, it’s still important that the youth players earn plenty of time on the court.