The New York Knicks are taking a different approach toward the point guard position this upcoming season. Last year, the team relied on Elfrid Payton as their primary starter before trading for Derrick Rose at the deadline.
Rose ended up being a catalyst toward the team’s success and eventual playoff appearance, but injuries began to take hold as Tom Thibodeau was forced to rely on him more than anticipated. Payton’s inability to score efficiently and shoot from three eventually saw his minutes depreciate, which led the Knicks to replace him this off-season.
Extending Rose on a new three-year contract, the team is clearly convinced he can provide significant value as the starter. However, they also want to mitigate fatigue, as Rose is preparing to turn 33 years old and canâ€™t handle an entire regular season and the physical constraints it comes with. To help supplement that reality, the front office signed Kemba walker to a two-year contract, coming off a season where he played in just 43 games.
With a degenerative knee issue, Walker is also unable to play a full 82 game season but is only one year removed from an All-Star appearance during the 2019-20 campaign.
Last year with Boston, Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and shot 42% from the field. He also connected on 36% of his shots from range, averaging 8.2 attempts per game. When playing at the top of his game, Walker is an All-Star caliber player who can elevate a roster and provide immediate scoring production. Playing off one another, Rose and Walker can help keep the point guard position fresh and efficient throughout the course of a season.
Theoretically, both players would split minutes evenly, playing 41 games in total. Kemba average 31.8 minutes last season while Rose played in 25.6. But the Knicks didnâ€™t stop there when considering the PG spot, they also drafted West Virginia stand-out Miles McBride with the 36th overall selection. During Summer League play, McBride looked fantastic, averaging 15.2 points on 53% shooting from the field and 50% shooting from three-point range.
Showcasing solid defense and shooting prowess, McBride is in line to earn minutes as well. Luckily for McBride, Argentinian native Luca Vildoza was forced out with an injury, providing him with a great opportunity to prove his worth over a larger sample size. Vildoza’s contract is non-guaranteed, so the Knicks can let him walk and save a bit of salary space to allocate elsewhere if need be.
The emergence of McBride during Summer League play motivated the coaching staff, meaning if Walker or Rose miss any time, they have a young supplement they can rely on. I would be remiss not to mention Immanuel Quickley and his performance at PG this summer as well. Quickley averaged 7.8 assists per game and 20.2 points leading the offense.
It is clear that the Knicks have far more talent at a spot of weakness this upcoming season than the year prior. If all goes to plan, they will have a solid rotation of options at point guard, and it should change the course of the franchise for years to come, potentially allowing them to take a step forward in the postseason.