After impressive performances in the Vegas Summer League, Ignas Brazdeikis has failed to establish himself in the New York Knicks rotation so far this season. With many young players fighting for minutes, Brazdeikis’ potential future with the team is filled with more questions than answers.
Ignas Brazdeikis debuted for the 2019-2020 New York Knicks during garbage time of a blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings. In four minutes of play he finished with four points, going 1-2 from the field, missing his only three-pointer and hitting both of his free throws after a late game foul.
This inauspicious regular season debut was a far cry from the highs of “Summer League Iggy,” who dropped 30 points against the Suns summer league team and looked like a crafty offensive prospect throughout the tournament, averaging 15.4 points per game throughout his Vegas campaign.
So the question is: why isn’t Brazdeikis playing, and what might this mean for his potential future with the team?
Despite his strong Summer League performances, Brazdeikis began to see reduced minutes once the Knicks entered training camp and the pre-season, clocking only secen minutes against the Washington Wizards. During his only preseason performance, Iggy went 0-2 shooting from the field as the Wizards mounted a big run against the Knicks.
It’s not uncommon for rookies to have bad games or to lose minutes because of them. But for a player who showed offensive potential in the Summer League to register 6 DNPs (“Did Not Play’s) due to coaches decision to start the season is odd to say the least, especially for a team ranked third to last in offensive production.
Though it’s a little early to judge, part of the reason Ignas may not be seeing minutes is due to his lack of impact on the floor when he does.
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Though he was able to score in his regular season debut, it came on the end of an isolation play where he was allowed to back down a smaller defender while the rest of the team cleared out of his way.
This style of play calling, where Brazdeikis was given the ball and entrusted to score, is the kind of system in which he thrived at Michigan, leading the team in scoring in his one year at school. But unlike college, the Summer League, or the garbage time minutes of a lost game, this is not the role that has been or most likely will be asked of Brazdeikis going forward in his NBA career.
Not many rookies are made the center piece of an NBA offense, and Brazdeikis has struggled in finding himself in an off-ball role. During his brief preseason performance, Brazdeikis missed both of his catch-and-shoot opportunities, and as reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post, Brazdeikis himself has noted that he has to adjust to not being a top-two scoring option right now in the NBA.
But will he be given the time to make these adjustments for the New York Knicks, a team that is already having major questions asked of its players, coaching staff and personnel early on in the season? Forbes‘ senior NBA contributor Tommy Beer has speculated that Brazdeikis and other young players on the outside of the rotation for the Knicks, like Damyean Dotson or Allonzo Trier, could find themselves as part of potential trade packages later on in the season.
While the potential to be traded is always looming for NBA players, it’s far more likely that Iggy will spend a majority of this season getting minutes in the G-League. As reported earlier this week by Marc Berman of the New York Post, Knicks officials have indicated that Brazdeikis will spend time with the Westchester Knicks this season, potentially playing in their season opener on Saturday, November 9th against the Raptors 905.
Though his future is currently murky, Brazdeikis has shown that he has a talent for scoring, and in the NBA that will buy you more than a few chances. But what is the long-term future for Ignas Brazdeikis and the New York Knicks?