The New York Knicks’ point guard plan is falling apart at the seams

New York Knicks, Alec Burks
Dec 26, 2020; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) drives to the basket past Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, in New York. The 76ers defeated the Knicks 109-89 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are just two games into the regular season, but one thing is becoming increasingly clear, the point guard position remains a major weakness in the starting five. Heading into the season, the Knicks had Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Immanuel Quickley as potential point guards. Quickley already has a hip pointer injury and will be out for the next few days, but he has been the brightest spot at the position since the pre-season began.

Ultimately, this issue persists after years of inadequacy at point guard. The Knicks re-signed Payton to a one-year, $5 million deal this offseason, and he had arguably his worst game in quite some time against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday evening. Over 18 minutes, Payton was 0-for-6 and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc, scoring zero points and had one assist. In fact, his embarrassing play didn’t even lead to more minutes for Ntilikina, but rather Smith, who is a disaster as well.

At some point, head coach Tom Thibodeau must play Frank, considering he’s barely reached the floor the past two games. He played in just two minutes against the 76ers, missing just one shot before being taken off. Thibodeau is still feverishly trying to work his way through the players on the roster and evaluate what he has, which isn’t much, obviously. Once Quickley returns, I expect him to be the immediate starter over Payton, who simply looks lost out there in Thibodeau’s scheme.

“In term of the point guards, the main responsibility is to keep us organized, run the team, play great defense, share the ball,’’ Thibodeau said. “As a team, we struggled. We got to do better.’’

The New York Knicks aren’t playing their own well adequately:

Playing great defense is something the Knicks haven’t done either, allowing over 120 points against the Indiana Pacers in the opener and 109 points in the home opener against Philadelphia. Thibodeau harped on being an aggressive team and overwhelming players with their defense, and that simply hasn’t been a reality.

“It shows we have a lot of work to do,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’re still evaluating what fits best and gives us our best chance. The shooting piece is important. We have to continue to work on it. The 3 is a big part of our league. It’s an area we’ll work on.’’

One of the primary issues is that the Knicks don’t have any pure shooters. Quickley might actually be their best shooter, and he was drafted just a few weeks ago. Most of their talent relies on getting into the paint and driving to the basket, which is an essential part of the game, but one that doesn’t match up well with the modern style of the NBA. Nonetheless, it is a long season, and the Knicks have ways to go, but the early signs of return do not seem promising.