New York Knicks: Does an ideal starting lineup exist?

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks continue to tinker with starting lineups and find middling results. Is there any formidable solution?

Three times in 15 games, New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale has shuffled the starting lineup. It resulted in a 4-11 record, including three consecutive blowout losses and a double-overtime defeat to the Chicago Bulls.

The latest changes — Kevin Knox and Emmanuel Mudiay replacing Damyean Dotson and Frank Ntilikina — produced a 128-103 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Whether it’s problems with pace, assists, or defense, Fizdale has yet to find a group that meshes. This may not happen until Kristaps Porzingis returns, but he remains without a timetable in 2018-19.

First, it was the group of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Lance Thomas and Enes Kanter. This group leaned towards one-sided players on offense or defense and produced a 1-4 record.

The second squad went for a two-way look with Ntilikina, Hardaway, Damyean Dotson, Noah Vonleh and Mitchell Robinson. Dotson and Vonleh earned their spots from standout bench work, which Fizdale was wary of breaking up, and the Knicks wanted to give their impressive rookie a chance to shine. They went 3-6.

The downfall was Sunday’s game against the Orlando Magic, who torched the Knicks from start to finish.

Finally, the group of Mudiay, Hardaway, Knox, Vonleh and Robinson took the floor to face an offensive stampede in Oklahoma City, sans Russell Westbrook. This unit found trouble scoring and defensive effort lacked, which seemed to be a team-wide issue.

Now what?

Per Rebecca Haarlow of MSG Networks, Fizdale teased another tweak to the starting lineup. The Knicks play the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

Hardly a surprise, as Fizdale previously said the starting five is not set in stone. Though it may mean this was a one-night-only experiment.

Does an ideal lineup exist with this roster? Maybe not for what Fizdale wants or the Knicks need.

They don’t have a dynamic point guard to push and pass the ball.

They don’t have a healthy player that makes everyone better.

They don’t have enough players who create their own shot.

They don’t have enough experienced players, either, but that takes time with a roster of players that range from age 19 to 23. With that youth comes mistakes.

It’s possible, perhaps likely, these issues never resolve themselves in 2018-19 — not with this roster. Meaning 67 more games that resemble the results of the first 15.

Fizdale will put together whatever he can to avoid disaster results like the past three games. Potentially lineups that return the fight, hustle, and grit shown in competitive games with the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors.

Easier said than done, of course, which is probably why Wednesday’s lineup will just be the latest iteration that opens a game.

Who will Fizdale trot out against the Pelicans? Likely not the perfect lineup, but a group that plays competitive and hard. If not, there will be another five after them.

Next. 25 greatest players in franchise history. dark

It’s all part of this developmental year to see what works and what doesn’t. So far, it has been plenty of the latter. Positives will arrive, but not as often as some New York Knicks fans desire.