New York Knicks: The point guard spot is up for grab, or is it? Elfrid Payton wants more

New York Knicks, Elfrid Payton

The New York Knicks had a rough start to the preseason at the point guard position, especially veteran Elfrid Payton, who averaged just 3.7 points per game over 22.3 minutes. His influence was not what the Knicks expected, but it’s still very early and the regular season has yet to even start.

Payton joined New York with the expectation that he would be competing for the starting job, and it seems that third-year player Dennis Smith Jr. will be the featured starter despite averaging just 6.5 points over 26.0 minutes. Smith has looked better in other categories as well including assists, rebounds, and blocks. It could be a result of more games played for Payton who’s are more leveled out.

“Dennis hasn’t played in just one game,’’ Fizdale said beforehand. “I want to get his minutes up to speed. Elfrid will be his third game and Frank has played three. We’ll have enough body of work to evaluate these guys.’’

Frank Ntilikina, on the other hand, made numerous key defensive plays, but his offense is still struggling at a rate that is impossible to bounce back from. He can’t get over the six-points per game average hump, as he earned just 5.3 points over three games (21.0 minutes per).

The two-year, $16 million deal for Payton reportedly had a kicker, though, as per the NY Post. Payton would be the starting point guard for the Knicks, and that reality is not coming to fruition considering his preseason performances. Smith Jr. is the player the front office wants to stick with and develop around their team. The assets they had to part with to bring him in and inject his athletic abilities into the team were astronomical, and he hasn’t shown us why he can be the future at the position.

Ultimately, Smith’s lack of production so far is what gives Elfrid so much optimism moving forward.

What does Elfrid Payton bring to the New York Knicks?

Payton has a strong interior presence and can drive to the hoop, which he failed to do against the Washington Wizards at home, going 0-for-9 and missing numerous easy chances. However, he’s a proven player and has a specific skill-set that the Knicks are keen on utilizing.

“What EP does, gets into the paint, it’s kind of hard to keep him out of there, he can finish around the rim very well,’’ Holiday said at the Friday morning shootaround at the Garden. “He can play defense very well. His vision on the court, that’s why he’s a point guard. But one thing last year for me, that was how well he shot the three. And I think people kind of slept on that.’’