New York Knicks Training Camp Battles: Backup Point Guard


The only position the New York Knicks seem to lack depth from is the point guard spot. Other than the obvious starting point guard Raymond Felton there is not many other point guards that can step up and be a role player to rely on as the official back-up point guard.

Following the retirement of former back-up point guard Jason Kidd, they then as an organization seen considered themselves vulnerable and desperate for a replacement.

Apr 5, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Orlando Magic point guard Beno Udrih (19) moves the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the second quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks bench really lacked penetration and energy at the 1 last season, with the 40-year-old Kidd and 36-year-old Pablo Prigioni taking up the majority of the minutes. Their offense, however, is based on pick-and-rolls and collapsing the defense, so they’ll need someone more suited to that next season.

There are a few guards that may be up for the challenge, and it will indeed be a more intense battle than people may think. The main goal will be to find someone who can bring the same things to the table that Felton does, in order for the second unit to work as effectively as the first unit.

Chris Smith also may see an opening as the Knicks backup point guard and believes he can fill the role. Smith was waived by the Knicks on Oct. 26 after undergoing left patella tendon surgery. The former Louisville and Manhattan player spent the season rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee at the Knicks’ facilities, and told in January he hoped to return to the team next season.

Although, it is highly unlikely he will be the back-up point guard at this point he would have to prove a lot in such little time in order to overthrow the other candidates.

When it all comes down to it, it may indeed come down between rookie guard Tim Hardaway Jr., Beno Udrih, and Pablo Prigioni.

A good idea for Mike Woodson to at least consider would be to give Hardaway Jr. a good amount of playing time as the backup point.

At an athletic 6’6” and 205 lbs., he will obviously be a huge mismatch for other point guards in the league and will score a lot of points. The only issue with him being the point guard on the court would be the possibility of him not being able to fit in as the 1 guard with the pick-and-roll type offense that the Knicks have been known to run.

It may be a task that Hardaway will be more than ready to take on, but it may be too big of a risk, especially for his rookie season. It is basically a hit or miss situation, either he fits the offensive scheme as the point guard or he doesn’t, but Woodson would almost have to be a moron not to consider the idea.

Hypothetically, if Hardaway does not pan out as the back-up point guard, the other guy who could fill that need is new acquisition Udrih. Many basketball minds feel that it is Udrih’s job to lose and that he was brought to New York specifically for that reason.

Udrih is the clear-cut winner in many people’s eyes because not only because he already knows the pick-and-roll very well from his days in San Antonio, but also because he can score as well. The 6’3″ Udrih was originally selected late in the first round of the 2004 draft by the San Antonio Spurs, and won two championships with the team from 2004-2007. He has since had stints with the Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, and Orlando Magic, before becoming a free agent this past offseason.

Unless Udrih gets injured or doesn’t impress Woodson enough to maintain his spot as the back-up point guard it is his job to lose.

Although he only has a one-year deal with the club, he hopes to produce enough to either re-sign with New York for a bigger contract or sign elsewhere for possibly even more money. This Knicks backcourt is full of potential and it will be interesting to see how Woodson manages everyone’s minutes. If the minutes are managed correctly this will be a tough backcourt to keep up with in transition.