NY Knicks: Alec Burks is “major key” to playoff run

Alec Burks, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Alec Burks, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The foundational players of this season’s NY Knicks team are Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Derrick Rose, in that order.

Julius Randle has been the best player, having a season worthy of All-NBA consideration.

RJ Barrett has been a steady #2 option and has taken his game to heights no one expected for his sophomore season.

After watching all of Barrett’s games, I still can’t believe he improved his outside shooting so quickly, finished the season shooting 40.1% from behind the arc.

Then there is Derrick Rose, who has helped build on Randle and Barrett’s play to catapult the Knicks into the 4th seed.

The Knicks are 24-11 in games in which Derrick Rose has played in. He helped turn the Knicks’ point guard position from it’s greatest weakness into one of it’s strengths.

But, this team is at it’s best when one particular player is on his game, that is Alec Burks.

The journeyman vet that the Knicks signed for just 1 year/$6M plays a vital role . The Knicks are 27-22 when just Burks plays, but 16-8 when Burks plays with Derrick Rose.

Aside from Julius Randle, Burks is the only other player the Knicks can’t replace. There isn’t another wing player on the roster with Burks’ skill set.

Alec Burks could make or break the NY Knicks’ playoff success

I have said that the number#1 priority for the Knicks next offseason is to find a dynamic wing player that can be the engine of the offense.

A younger, bigger, and stronger version of Alec Burks would be perfect to compliment Julius and RJ.

While Burks has had a good season and is in-line for a good pay day in the offseason, during his career he has not been a player you can count on.

The biggest issue with Burks throughout his career has been his health. This season Burks he has missed 23 games, some due to Covid-19 protocols.

However, he is healthy at the right time of the season.

Reggie Bullock is the starting small forward that provides great defense and outside shooting, 41.0% from beyond the arc.

But Bullock is a spot up shooter, who can’t create off the dribble. Burks’ defense is nowhere near as stout as Bullock’s, but he gives you great outside shooting on spot ups as well as off the dribble.

He is also a reliable ball handler than can get to the rim and help orchestrate the offense in spot duty. Alec is shooting 41.5% on 3-pointers with volume, 5 attempts per game.

Having Burks on his game with Rose or Quickley at the point along with RJ and Julius is a potent 4-man lineup.

If Burks can hold his own defensively, his presence on the court alone opens up the offense for RJ and Julius.

According to Cleaning the Glass, the Knicks points per 100 possessions is 111.6 with Burks on the court compared to 110.3 when he is off the court.

One of the best lineups the Knicks have played in terms of point differential per 100 possessions is when Burks has played with Rose, Quickley, Toppin, and Gibson, +14.8.

That is the only lineup that that has produced a positive point differential without Julius Randle.

The Knicks are going to need Alec Burks to counter Atlanta’s wings, as Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter are dangerous outside shooters. If New York advances to the 2nd round and plays Philadelphia, one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, they will need him even more.

Ben Simmons is a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and has been a nightmare for RJ. The Knicks can’t expect the 20 year old Barrett in his first trip to the playoffs to be ready for that challenge.

We all remember a young Kobe Bryant throwing up air balls in playoff games early in his career.

That is why the Knicks will go as far as Burks takes them. He is not one of the best players on the team, but is a difference maker.

The best version of Alec Burks makes the Knicks’ offense dynamic and dangerous even to scare the top 3 teams in the East.

Next. Another 3 contracts NY can trade for and obtain a draft pick. dark