Newly acquired point guard Shane Larkin gave New York Knicks’ fans a glimpse of what they can expect from him this season during the NBA Summer League out in Las Vegas.
First year head coach Derek Fisher really enjoyed working with Larkin and felt he stood out to the Knicks brass. In a recent interview with KnicksNow, Fisher spoke highly of Larkin saying he was their most consistent player.
Now having said that, it’s important to not jump to conclusions and say Larkin will get 25 minutes a night as the backup point guard. The Knicks still have Pablo Prigioni for backcourt depth, but if the second year point guard develops the way the Knicks are hoping, Prigioni becomes expendable.
What we saw in the Summer League statistically isn’t necessarily what we should expect in the regular season out of anyone who participated in Las Vegas. However, what we did learn is that Larkin will be a change of pace type of guard. While last year’s squad typically held the ball and rarely had fast break opportunities, Larkin’s style of play is to run and use his quickness to make up for his lack of size. There were many instances of Cleanthony Early and Tim Hardaway Jr. leaking out on the break for an easy two because they knew if they ran, Larkin would get them the ball.
Offensively, Larkin excels running his man off screens and his floor vision is something that stood out. He finds the open man and rarely forces shots even though he is a solid shooter. He only shot 30% from downtown this summer, but that is such a small sample size (five games) to discard his 41% shooting his sophomore year at Miami. With good offensive players like Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tim Hardaway Jr., Larkin will find shots hard to come by, but with the triangle offense, the ball should be more spread out finding open shooters.
Defensively is where you could see Larkin make his biggest impact. What he lacks in size (5’11” 178 lbs.), he certainly makes up for in athleticism and quickness. Averaging three steals a game this summer, the Miami product has very active hands and puts pressure on opposing point guards all the way up the court.
Coming off the bench is a great way to use energy as the Knicks are used to watching their point guard last year, Raymond Felton, consistently get torched. In the event that Jose Calderon is unable to keep up with an opposing point guard, Fisher may throw Larkin in there to slow them down. Calderon is much bigger and stronger, but Larkin will add a certain defensive intensity that Calderon won’t be able to maintain for an entire game.
Overall, Larkin has the chance to be a special player.
The Knicks targeted him in the draft last year, but he already had a promise from another team ahead of them. Well the Knicks finally got their man, and even though he struggled to find time with Dallas last year, he should find more consistent playing time in New York.
A good young piece to the puzzle for the Knicks hopefully completely shores up that gaping hole at the point guard position last season. Depending on how he plays in the early season and how Prigioni plays/feels, Larkin could be looking at anywhere between five minutes to 20 minutes. The Knicks need to clean up their back court depth before people can get a better feel for how the minutes will be distributed.