The New York Knicks Have a Point Guard Problem

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After a first-round exit in 2021, the New York Knicks narrowly missed the chance to play in the 2022 playoffs. Instead, the Knicks landed the 11th pick, and have the assets to make a plethora of moves to achieve the playoffs again. The 2021 season was disastrous for the Knicks. The young squad struggled with injuries to key players like Derrick Rose and dealt with regression for Julius Randle, who was an all-star in 2021. There were many bright spots, such as breakout seasons from R.J. Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin.

The New York Knicks Have a Point Guard Problem

So, What Was The New York Knicks’ Problem?

The main criticism of the Knicks’ offense in the 2021-2022 campaign was their lack of a true point guard, as outlined in the following thread by Tommy Beer on Twitter.

In his tweets, Beer makes himself crystal clear. The Knicks need a long-term point guard to smoothen out the kinks in the Knicks’ offense. But what was the issue this year? After the injury to Rose, and the benching of struggling Kemba Walker, Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau made Alec Burks the starting point guard. Burkes was always an off-ball scoring threat for his entire career and has never even been listed as a point guard until this season.

When off the bench, or starting as a wing, Burks flourished. Burks scored the ball and made defenders guard him anywhere within 30 feet of the basket. This forced defenders to slack off on their other assignments and created opportunities for teammates. After moving to point guard, Burks became the floor general, forcing him to create, rather than be the spotlight of set plays.

Statistics

When Burks began to take on the starting point guard role, the Knicks starting lineup was as follows. Barrett, Burks, Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Evan Fournier. This season, that lineup recorded assists on 36.71% of their made two-pointers. This ranks the third lowest of all Knicks lineups that played over 50 minutes this past season. The Knicks relied heavily on isolation scoring when Burkes was on the court, which is not ideal for a team looking to build a contender.

Burks also did a poor job of creating for his team. According to ShotQuality, Burks averaged 5.62 Passing Points Created Per Game (PPCPG), which ranked 116th in the NBA. Five Knicks had a higher PPCPG than Burkes this season: Randle (9.53 PPCPG), Rose (8.87 PPCPG), Quickley (7.51 PPCPG), Walker (7.15 PPCPG), and Barrett (6.57 PPCPG). Not only was Burks a bad choice for the point guard position due to his lack of experience managing an offense, but he also had no experience in a role where he was required to pass to create, This left the Knicks in a position where they had few options on offense outside of isolations to score the ball.

So, What Are the Possible New York Knicks Solutions?

What makes the NBA offseason so unique is the potential methods of player acquisition, all of which can bring in specific players to fill teams’ needs or potential franchise players. Teams can go after players via the draft, free agency, or making trades. The Knicks must search through all three to find the perfect point guard for next season.

NBA Draft

Jaden Ivey

Hailing from the University of Purdue, Ivey has the potential to be a franchise player for any team. The six-foot-four point guard averaged 17.3 points per game this season while leading Purdue to the sweet 16. At the moment, the consensus is that Ivey is the 4th best prospect in this class. He has a wide offensive repertoire and provides the skills of a true point guard that the Knicks have lacked. 

Ivey was a quality disturber at Purdue, averaging 3.1 assists per game, which is impressive considering the offensive load he was tasked with.

Ivey is the consensus number one point guard from among this draft class, and it would be a mistake for the Knicks not to explore their options for acquiring Ivey.

Dyson Daniels

While Daniels is not listed as a point guard,  he would fit well into the Knicks system, and help fix many of their issues. His experience in the G-league will show, as the Knicks aim for the playoffs this season.

One of the most enticing parts of Daniels’ game and play style is his ability to pass the ball. Daniels averaged 5.1 assists per game, which is above average for his position. Daniels won’t be a starter for the Knicks, but his ability to distribute could potentially aid the Knicks both on and off the stat sheet.

Free Agency

Jalen Brunson

Once the rumors linking Brunson and the Knicks began, they have yet to stop. Brunson would be an ideal fit for the Knicks. He was a primary initiator on the Dallas Mavericks this season and provided playmaking that proved useful during their run to the Western Conference Finals.

Brunson could make for a great Knick, and it seems as though he will not be expensive. While he is a restricted free agent, Brunson may only demand between 15-25 million dollars per season on a contract.

While this may be more than some fans would like to pay for a player of Brunson’s caliber, there is no doubt that Brunson, who is only 25 years old, will improve. Brunson deserves whatever the Knicks can throw at him, and has the potential to transform the Knicks franchise for the remainder of the decade.

Tyus Jones

Jones played a big role for the Memphis Grizzlies this season. Backing up Ja Morant, Jones’s role was not easy, but in his time on the floor, he dismantled opposing bench units with skillful playmaking. Tyus dished out 4.4 assists per game, a career-high for the 26-year-old.

Jones also knows exactly how to limit turnovers. Not once in his career has he averaged over one turnover per game. In other words, Tyus Jones takes good care of the ball, making him a great option for the Knicks at point guard.

The Trade Market can Help the New York Knicks

Malcolm Brogdon

One thing that Brogdon does exceptionally well, is to distribute the ball to his teammates. The point guard dealt out nearly six assists per game last season. The Pacers may not have been successful last season, but if Brogdon would like to play winning basketball, he has many opportunities.

The Pacers want to begin their rebuild and have been a perfect place for Brogdon to begin to develop his skills in order to contribute to a team like the Knicks next season.

Kyrie Irving

Obviously, Irving being traded to the Knicks, or signing with them, would be absurd. However, the Knicks have emerged as a potential destination for Irving if he were to leave the Nets.

Irving brings so much to the Knicks on the court. He is not only a distributing point guard, which is something the Knicks desperately desire (as is the point of this article), but also a crafty point guard, who scores the ball with ease. Some Knicks fans may oppose trading for Irving, but if he would be the first established star to grace the MSG court in a Knicks uniform since Carmelo Anthony.