NBA fans around the world: rejoice. The 2016-17 NBA season is quickly approaching. Over the next five weeks, Last Word On Pro Basketball will provide a breakdown of the New York Knicks roster, looking at a different position each week. Let’s start with the point guards.
New York Knicks Roster Breakdown: Point Guards
The point guard position has been the Achilles heel of the New York Knicks roster for the better part of a decade. Fans have been forced to watch an overweight Raymond Felton, and over-the-hill Jose Calderon, and two wet-behind-the-ears players in Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway try to man the position. Not one of those four players are still on the team. In one off-season, Phil Jackson has turned the point guard position from the weakest link into arguably the deepest position on the Knicks roster.
Starter: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose was brought in to provide stability and star power at the point guard position. Rose was the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year award winner. He is also a three-time All-Star. The former number one overall pick became the league’s youngest player to win the Most Valuable Player award, doing so in the 2010-11 season, which saw him average 25.0 points and 7.7 assists per game.
The problem is that since that season, Rose has been plagued by injuries. Rose played in 66 games last season and averaged 16.4 points and 4.7 assists per game. That was the most games he has been able to play in one season since his MVP campaign. Entering his eighth season in the league, New York does not need the MVP Rose. They just need a healthy Rose.
Primary Back-up: Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings was brought in to back up Rose this season. The 6’1″, 169-pound guard is also entering his eighth season in the league. During his career, he has averaged 15.5 points, 5.9 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Like Rose, Jennings had to deal with injuries in the past.
His 2014-15 season was cut short after 44 games due to a knee injury. He also missed the first 31 games of last season while still recovering. Jennings played mostly as a reserve for the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic last year. He averaged 6.9 points and 3.5 assists per game. He also had the worst shooting season of his career, at just 36.8 percent from the floor. He hit 32.9 percent of his three-pointers, and shot just 73.1 percent from the foul line. If Jennings can get his health back to 100 percent, he has the ability to make a run at the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Third String: Chasson Randle
Chasson Randle was the darling of the Knicks Orlando Summer League team. The former Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois averaged 18.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 3.0 steals in three Summer League games. Being at the end of the depth chart does not provide many opportunities to earn playing time. Randle has the advantage of having a 6’2″, 185-pound frame, as well as the ability to play either guard position.
Phil Jackson does love himself big, experienced guards. In his four years at Stanford University, Randle earned First Team All Pac-12 honors twice. At the time of his graduation, Randle was Stanford’s all-time leading scorer with 2,375 points. He may not end up receiving a lot of playing time for the Knicks. The minutes he does get, though, will be valuable to Randle’s progression.
The NBA is a point guard driven league these days. The Knicks have done a good job of adding depth to the position without committing to lengthy contracts. All three of these players are on one-year or expiring contracts that end next summer. So if things go wrong, the Knicks can just reset and start fresh next year.