Point guard is one of, if not the biggest issue facing the New York Knicks. A long list of guards have tried and failed to stand out at running the show for the Knicks: Chris Duhon, Raymond Felton, Toney Douglas, Jose Calderon, and Shane Larkin have all tried and failed to effectively run the Knicks offense and shore up the team on defense.
With two elite point guards in the draft, as well as several intriguing young options in free agency, it seems like it’s now or never for the Knicks to address the point guard position. Here are their five best options to do so.
I already did a report on Mudiay as a player back in December, and his draft stock has pretty much stayed the same ever since due to the fact that he is playing abroad. Since picking up an injury in China, Mudiay has kept a low profile, not attending the draft combine, and mostly training independently for the upcoming draft.
Mudiay has a lot of good qualities to him: his size (6’5”), speed, change of direction, playmaking ability, and basketball IQ. While he has some drawbacks, they aren’t unfixable. A seemingly broken jump shot will improve with time, and a lack of defensive interest will certainly fade with the rigors of the NBA.
Mudiay has all the talent in the world, and could be a very good player for the Knicks. If New York falls out of the top two in the draft, don’t bet against them taking a long look at Emmanuel Mudiay.
Former Ohio State Buckeye D’Angelo Russell recently stated that he was the best player in this years draft. He may have a point.
At 6’5”, Russell has tremendous size for the point guard position. He also possesses great skill, as well as the ability to run an offense. He differs from Mudiay in two major areas: first, athleticism. Russell is not a super athlete, and relies on skill more so than athletic ability.
Mudiay has skill, but is more reliant on his body. The second is his jumper. Russell actually has a consistent jumper, and is even capable of hitting off the dribble. Mudiay, on the other hand, has a broken jumper, one that won’t translate to the NBA. Russell’s biggest trait, however, is that he’s arguably the most NBA ready player in the draft. His basketball IQ and feel for the game are intangibles that are unteachable.
His feel for the game is greater than Mudiay’s, which is why he might be the better pick. Russell can command the triangle, create shots for himself and his teammates, and use his size to defend some of the better point guards in the league. He’s been the player connected most with the Knicks in the draft process, and it would be no surprise to see his name called to New York come late June.
A lot of people are projecting former Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson to become a Knick in the offseason. The current Detroit Piston saw a 5 point increase in points per game, a double in assists per game, and a 4 point increase in Player Efficiency Rating after his transition from Oklahoma City to Detroit. The 17.6 points and 9.2 assists per game he put up in 27 contests with the Pistons bode well for a player that was criminally underused during the first half of the season. A young, exciting, athletic talent, Jackson could be worth a look in free agency.
The only problem? He is a restricted free agent, which means the Knicks may have to offer him max money, and even that may not be good enough. Even if it is enough, Jackson hasn’t proved he is a max player, and spending a large chunk of their hard-earned cap space on such an enigmatic player may not be the best idea.
At 23 years old, Brandon Knight still hasn’t tapped into his full potential. He showed flashes during the first half of the season with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he was snubbed of a deserved All-Star spot. He was then traded to Phoenix, where he was solid (but not as great as he was with the Bucks). The former Kentucky Wildcat has an extensive offensive repertoire, and could be a great scoring point guard.
The question is: will he fit with Carmelo Anthony and the triangle offense? He’s also a restricted free agent, and as an established player, it’s very likely that the Knicks will have to offer max money to pry him away from the Suns. Knight would be a stellar signing, but he’s the least likely player on this list to end up with the Knicks.
The Houston Rocket is the best fit out of any of these players in the triangle offense. Think Derek Fisher with the Lakers: Beverley isn’t a dynamic point guard, and neither was Fisher. But he can handle and distribute the basketball, and make shots when called upon. While it’s still unclear whether Beverley possesses the clutch gene that Fisher had, the pesky guard is a better on-ball defender than Fisher ever was.
In a league run by point guards (the 1 boasts more elite players than any other position), Beverley could be invaluable on a nightly basis. While it isn’t a flashy pickup, it’s one that makes sense. If the Knicks don’t draft a point guard, and aren’t willing to dole out big bucks on one in free agency, expect them to sign Patrick Beverley.