4. Playing guard-heavy
Smaller NBA lineups have become prevalent over the past few seasons. No longer is it just the standard five of pinpointed positions that cannot change. Attribute some of that to the Golden State Warriors and their use of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and others in their championship run.
The New York Knicks can break this down by using a guard-heavy lineup. Their ideal group is not perfect, but it has upside:
- Elfrid Payton – For a guard-centric group, the Knicks need someone to distribute the ball. Payton is the superior passer to Smith Jr. and takes the nod here.
- Wayne Ellington – Ellington is arguably New York’s best perimeter shooter. He is not a night-to-night starter, but someone to stretch the floor off the bench and fill in as needed.
- Allonzo Trier – Trier’s outside game lacked to open his rookie season, but he closed with a strong 39.4 percent on three-pointers by season’s end.
- RJ Barrett – Barrett as a super-small four is a risk since he does not have the frame of a deeper frontcourt player, but there is point forward potential for him in this group. It can open paint and create opportunities by taking one of the opponent’s biggest players away.
- Mitchell Robinson – Someone must counter the guards, and Robinson is that guy. He will stay out of the way as the rim protector and player able to catch lobs.