The Knicks now have the luxury of creating different combinations of players for the 2021-22 season. Last year, head coach Tom Thibodeau had trouble finding multiple lineups they could play at an efficient level.
With a lack of talent at various positions, including point guard and center, the Knicks forced some of the regular starters to play far more than desirable. This upcoming year, the hope is to give their primary players more rest to mitigate fatigue over a full 82-game season. Drafting Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, and second-year players Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin should provide just that. Donâ€™t forget reserve options like Nerlens Noel and Alec Berks, who can contribute immediately on multiple levels.
The most important part of creating combinations is having adequate talent so weaknesses donâ€™t bleed through. One position that is facing an interesting conundrum is point guard, as the Knicks signed both Derrick Rose to an extension and acquired Kemba Walker in a sign and trade with the Boston Celtics.
Rose was offered a three-year, $43.5 million deal with a non-guaranteed year in the third season when he is 34 years old. Walker is set to earn $17.9 million over two seasons, a contract that most would agree is a bargain for his quality.
The question is, who will Tom Thibodeau lean on to be his primary starter?
Some believe that Walker is projected as the starting point guard, but Thibodeau might take a more creative approach to get both players on the floor and resting their bodies over the course of the year. In fact, I would label both of them at starters, as the Knicks will likely interchange them on a nightly basis to hopefully sustain health.
Last season, Rose averaged 25.6 minutes per game, and Walker played 31.8 minutes over 43 games. Theoretically, the Knicks could split the point guard responsibilities evenly and keep both healthy for the entire season. Rose and Walker played 93 games combined last year, 10 more than a regular NBA season.
With the 32-year-old Rose averaging 14.7 points, 4.2 assists, and shooting 47% from the field, the Knicks know they have a floor general who can manage the team properly. Walker is more of a wildcard, averaging 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and shooting 42% from the field. Walker is capable of providing elite offensive play but is rather streaky at times, which is why Thibodeau might take a more balanced approach to keep both focused and feeling at 100%.
How do you think the Knicks will operate a point guard this upcoming season with Rose and Walker? Comment below!