What role will Ignas Brazdeikis play with the New York Knicks this season

New York Knicks, Ignas Brazdeikis

While the New York Knicks selection of R.J. Barrett attracted almost all the fanfare for the Knicks during the NBA Draft on June 20th, 2019, there was also the selection of Ignas Brazdeikis in the second round with the 47th pick.

Brazdeikis, a forward, averaged 15-5-1 on 46/39/77 in his one season of college ball for the University of Michigan basketball team.

Where will the New York Knicks feature the pair?

Many have speculated where Barrett will play, will he play more shooting guard or small forward, and will he start to open off the season or will Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier or Wayne Ellington start at the 2 on opening night.

Here I will examine the answers to those questions but for the Knicks other draft pick, Brazdeikis:

At Michigan, Brazdeikis was utilized as more of a power forward but it is generally believed that he will be more of a small forward in the NBA, mostly due to his build and 6’7 height. However, it is also believed he could play sporadic minutes at power forward, like Kevin Knox.

So how do the New York Knicks stack up at the forward positions where Brazdeikis plays? At Brazdeikis’ secondary position, Power Forward. In maybe the most notable development in the 2018-19 Knicks season, the Knicks traded away star power forward Kristaps Porzingis in a deal that also saw Tim Hardawy Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr. and two first-round picks.

This left the Knicks with a hole at that position going forward. As the Knicks let the other power forward on the 2018-19 team, Noah Vonleh and Luke Kornet walk, power forward was to be a major need for the Knicks to fill in free agency, the Knicks marquee signing was Julius Randle, who is a lock to start at the 4 for probably the next two seasons if not more.

Then the Knicks also signed Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis and Marcus Morris. While the Knicks were mocked by some for signing a high number of power forwards, only Gibson looks to be a lock on play most of his minutes at the 4, as Portis is likely to backup Mitchell Robinson at center, and while Marcus Morris has logged the vast majority of his minutes for the Celtics at Power Foward, he was mostly a small forward the previous four seasons for the Suns and Pistons, which leads the door for him to potentially start for the Knicks at small forward this season.

Speaking of small forward…that is projected as the primary position Brazdeikis will play in the NBA. So how do the Knicks stack up there? Well, 3 players on the Knicks played the majority of their minutes at the 3 last year, Kevin Knox, the team’s first-round draft pick and Damyean Dotson, 2017 second-round pick, and Mario Hezonja, who is now on the Portland Trail Blazers.

Besides that, Reggie Bullock has logged 53% of his career minutes at the 3, but he may miss part of the season and play shooting guard (same for Dotson) when he comes back. (All position playing totals are according to Basketball reference)

So where does that leave Brazdeikis? Well, Randle, Morris, and Knox are definitely ahead of him along with Dotson if the Knicks play him at the 3, and Bullock probably too. That leaves Brazdeikis at best as probably the third-string option behind 4 players to start the season, and there is a possibility he spends some time with the G-league Westchester Knicks.

Both of those things aren’t necessarily bad though, as many second-round picks start off in the same situation. It is imperative that if Brazdeikis gets increased minutes due to Bullock’s injury, he could capitalize on those minutes to put himself in front of Bullock in the pecking order when he returns from injury.

The Role that Ignas Brazdeikis will play for the Knicks in the 2019-19 season is going to be an interesting development to watch and in my opinion, will be one of the more interesting things to watch out for in this season.