New York Knicks: With preseason over, how could starting lineup look?

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

The preseason ended Friday for the New York Knicks, losing the third time in four games. Despite that, how could the starting lineup look for opening night?

Four preseason games have played out for the New York Knicks, with the focus on who will start games for the team. Opening night is on Wednesday, Oct. 23, and as of the end of Friday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, no starting five is in place for the first matchup of the regular season.

There are some potential hints at who could start, though, given the events of these exhibition contests. Which players might Knicks fans see at tip-off against the San Antonio Spurs?

Elfrid Payton

No point guard stood out from the pack, whether it was Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr. or Frank Ntilikina. Each of them had poor shooting nights or did not show enough handling the basketball. Someone must start, though, and if head coach David Fizdale does not try RJ Barrett at point guard, one of these three will receive the nod.

Despite a bad preseason, Payton still projects to start. He remains the best passer of the three to get his teammates involved. That starting leash may be short, however, if Smith plays well in a shoot-first role off the bench.

RJ Barrett

The Duke product capitalized on his promising preseason with a stellar performance against the Pelicans: 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting, six rebounds, three assists and one block.

Barrett found almost any shot he desired, whether from behind the arc or attacking the rim. The latter was always his strong suit in college, and he followed through with moves inside the paint to score. Being double-teamed curtailed him a bit in the second half, but those first 24 minutes were electric, and the Madison Square Garden crowd realized it.

Plus, Fizdale has played Barrett heavy minutes in each preseason game. The team knows they have someone here with the No. 3 overall pick, and he should insert into the starting lineup immediately, without question.

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Marcus Morris

Marcus Morris received the starting nod for New York’s first three preseason games, before taking a backseat in the finale for other players. Given Kevin Knox never opened a game, the veteran forward seemingly has the lead to start at small forward, or one of the forward spots if Fizdale sees this as “positionless.”

Morris is potentially in for a career year scoring the basketball, given the lack of primary options on the Knicks. His career-high is 14.1, and a number around 15-17 seems realistic.

Julius Randle

The New York Knicks paid Julius Randle handsomely in the offseason, so there is little doubt where he stands entering opening night. He started all four preseason games and played heavy minutes in each. While defense may not be the first priority, the former Laker will have every opportunity to score, and he is even an apt passer. 20-23 points, eight rebounds and four assists are reasonable averages.

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Mitchell Robinson

Foul troubles still hurt Mitchell Robinson in the preseason, but what made his rookie campaign special also stood out. Barring something unforeseen, he is New York’s starting center, but on-court time will fluctuate with how he controls those excessive calls.