New York Knicks: Point guard remains muddy after third preseason game

New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After the third preseason game, where do each of the New York Knicks’ point guards stand?

Once again, the New York Knicks entered a preseason with point guard issues. They have yet to find the player to take the reins at this position, while other teams thrive with lead guards. Everyone from Jose Calderson to Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and Trey Burke handled this role in recent years.

This time, the Knicks have Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr. and Elfrid Payton battling for point guard. Each player has received an opportunity to stand out, but, after three games, no one has run away with the starting job yet.

That complicates the next point guard power rankings. There is no clear-cut order of where everyone stands anymore, so let’s look at how each player has performed through 75 percent of the preseason:

Frank Ntilikina. . player. 27. . . Previous: 3rd

Frank Ntilikina was the topic of conversation entering the 2019-20 season, from his disappointing two years, the trade rumors and the looming fourth-year team option. Positive play in the 2019 FIBA World Cup seemed to curb some doubts, but it has struggled to carry over.

Much like Ntilikina’s first two seasons, he continues to struggle shooting the basketball, with just 28.6 percent from the field in three games for 5.3 points. He has hit just one three-pointer on nine attempts, as well.

It is a small sample size but remains more of the same from the 21-year-old guard.

Outside of that, Ntilikina’s 3.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game are not only positives, but head coach David Fizdale confidently used the third-year man down the stretch of Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks; it was a crunchtime situation, and Ntilikina played ahead of the other point guards. Preseason game or not, it was significant, even with just two points.

Defense kept Ntilikina in the game, as he handled Atlanta’s Trae Young in the second half. If anything, that will maintain his playing time for however long the Knicks roster him. He made it quiet down the stretch for the red-hot Hawks backcourt, and Young finished the game at just 7-for-19 shooting.

Fizdale, still, may not start Ntilikina on opening night, but there is a role for him off the bench. The New York Knicks need defensive-minded players on a mostly offensive-minded team, and this is arguably their best bet on the perimeter.