How the point guard situation is shaping up for the New York Knicks
On Monday, the New York Knicks won in Atlanta against the Hawks by a score of 113-108 to improve to a winning record of 4-3. Despite the fact only eight Knicks players saw the floor in this game, three of those men were point guards. The trio of Elfrid Payton, Immanuel Quickley, and Austin Rivers averaged 12.7 points, including four three-pointers, to help propel the team to victory.
It’s evident that all three guards produce when they’re on the floor, so the question here is: Should Elfrid Payton remain the starter or should Immanuel Quickley or Austin Rivers be rewarded with the spot?
Time to make the case for all three.
The case for Elfrid Payton
Payton has been the starter for the Knicks at PG dating all the way back to last season. After an injury-prone 2019 campaign, the soon-to-be 27 year old is averaging 13.6 points along with 4.6 assists throughout his first seven games.
Payton’s main strength is pure intensity, along with wearing out the opposing PG so the inflation in scoring to start the year definitely comes as a shock. The Knicks have used the same starting lineup in all seven matches so it’s hard to imagine that Tom Thibodeau would make a change especially with the recent success of the team. Payton is definitely a liability when it comes to free throw shooting, but the starting lineup doesn’t lack skill in that category, as Bullock, Barrett, and Randle have all proven to be reliable from the charity stripe. If you believe in “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” Payton is your man.
The case for Immanuel Quickley
Quickley is by far the fan favorite of the group. The rookie out of Kentucky injured his hip in the season opener against Indiana and after missing the following four games, Quickley averaged 12.5 points in his first two games back and is clearly a big part of the rotation off the bench.
My belief is that Quickley should start if the Knicks decide they want to go in a direction that involves strictly playing the young players. The issue here is it doesn’t seem like that’s the case. You can make a couple exceptions, but it’s safe to say the Knicks have been a very competitive team to start the season, and have already beaten multiple teams.
If the initial record for the orange and blue wasn’t 4-3, it would be a lot easier for me to consider starting Quickley. However, since he has been so effective in his small sample size of games off the bench, I say don’t rush the transition.
The case for Austin Rivers
I’m sure Austin Rivers was not on the free agent wishlist of Knicks fans throughout the 2020 offseason. Now, fans have been captivated by his leadership and love the overall message he brings to the organization.
Following a loss in Rivers’ Knick debut to the Toronto Raptors, Austin took to the Knicks Instagram page and left a comment on the post of the final score telling Knicks faithful to be patient and to “trust us.”
Ever since that post, New York is 2-0 and Rivers has played a valiant role off the bench. The veteran point guard has provided a good 3-pointer along with good defense off the bench and has often been paired with Immanuel Quickley as a back court. They were even given the nickname “Quivers.” Excuse me if I sound like a broken record but again, I don’t see a reason to shift the system here. There is nothing wrong with the current rotation of guards so as long as Rivers provides great minutes for the Knicks when needed, why give him a different role?
It’s easy to comprehend why Knicks fans want to see these new exciting players in the starting lineup. However, it’s important to enjoy what’s currently working and not stress over an unnecessary rotation change.