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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(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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Elfrid Payton was at the forefront to start at point guard. As someone who passes first to find open teammates, it made him the favorite, and Fizdale used the newcomer as the starter for the first two preseason games.

The result: 2.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game on 14.5 percent shooting.

The second preseason outing was an 0-for-9 effort from the former New Orleans Pelican, contributing to a blowout loss against the Washington Wizards.

So, with the third preseason game, Fizdale did not play Payton. Poor play in his first two chances could have been the reason, or the coaching staff saw enough to determine where he fits into the point guard conundrum, thus Smith Jr. receiving the chance to start against Atlanta.

If that was Payton’s last chance of the preseason, it could spell a reserve role for him, pending how Ntilikina and Smith play against the Pelicans on Friday. Even so, that may not last for long if Fizdale chooses to shuffle his starting lineup, similar to what happened for most of the 2018-19 season. Continuously losing games could create this, too.

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Either way, the New York Knicks did not pay Payton $8 million to sit on the bench. He will receive playing time, whether as the starter or backup. So far, his play has been more indicative of the latter.