In a dramatic turn of events, the New York Knicks went from having a glaring weakness at the point guard position to having three very good options to fill the void. If the season started today, the Knicks would have three point guards: Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni, and Shane Larkin.
All three of those players deserve serious playing time. The problem is, there aren’t enough minutes to go around. Someone is inevitably going to see their minutes cut, and right now, it is hard to tell who it will be.
Obviously, Jose Calderon was brought in to start and certainly has all the credentials to continue starting at the point for the New York Knicks. Over his ten NBA seasons, Calderon has averaged 28.8 minutes per game, but has been most effective in seasons when he played more than 30 minutes per contest. His per 36 minutes career numbers of 12.8 ppg and 8.5 apg displays why Calderon should take the bulk of the minutes at the point.
Pablo Prigioni has been a great back up point guard for the Knicks. The 37 year old point guard does whatever he can to get the team back into the game, whether it’s diving on loose balls, or hitting a big three. Prigioni is also a tremendous three point shooter (when he actually shoots) which adds even more value to the team. A career 43% three point shooter, yet takes under three field goal attempts per game. He is a solid on ball defender and can really get under the skin of opposing players. All these positives on Prigioni are reasons why he too deserves minutes this year.
The forgotten about new comer, Shane Larkin, is one of the more interesting prospects the Knicks have had in a while. Even though Larkin didn’t see much run at the point last year, he was only a rookie and will turn 22 years old this season. Given his youth and skill set, Larkin needs time to develop, and sitting on the bench for the second straight season will really stunt his growth.
What the young point guard brings to the table is energy, defense, and tempo. The Knicks sorely missed a change of pace playmaker last year as easy transition baskets were hard to come by. Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of the few Knick players who would want to run, but there weren’t many who could get him the ball. This is where Larkin can step in with that second unit and really change the pace game. Watch in the video below how Larkin consistently gets his hands in the passing lane and always wants to push the ball. Granted its only the Summer League, but head coach Derek Fisher worked directly with him and stressed how impressed he was with the young guard out of Miami.
What it really comes down to is who is getting those 18 minutes (maybe more as Calderon could shift to shooting guard at times) behind Jose Calderon at the point? Prigioni has been a fan favorite with his energy, but he is certainly getting up there in age. While he pressures his man in the back court, he has a very difficult time staying in front of his man in the half court. Of course at age 37 most people have lost a step in lateral quickness and explosiveness to the hoop.
Larkin is finally that young point guard to groom that Knick fans have been waiting to watch for a long time. Between his youth, athleticism, quickness, ability to get to the rim and finish, Larkin should get the nod to play at least 15 minutes a night. If he plays well, lengthen the leash and reward the youngster.
A dark horse in this whole situation though is Iman Shumpert. It will be interesting to see if Fisher plans to try him at the point guard position. My guess is he probably will in some sets, which will now mean there are four players vying for minutes at the point. He has been keeping his turnovers to a minimum and brings a great defensive presence on the perimeter, but we’re still waiting to see if he can consistently make shots and have the court vision of a point guard.
Again, not everyone is going to be able to play; there simply isn’t enough minutes to go around. It’s nice to have a lot of good options for once. However, someone is going to have to be the odd man out.