New York Knicks: Go Burks or Go Home

Alec Burks, New York Knicks. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Alec Burks, New York Knicks. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
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NY Knicks, Derrick Rose, Alec Burks, Reggie Bullock (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Why the Knicks Should Elevate Alec Burks

Another fact: Alec Burks hasn’t been good lately.

In Game 1, he scored 27 points on 9-13 shooting (3-5 from 3) and dished out 4 assists. Since then, he’s 10-33 shooting (4-16 from 3) with only 5 assists.

Umm, so what are we doing here???

From a chemistry standpoint, Burks with the starters seems a better fit. Of the five best regular season lineups that include Burks, four include Julius Randle and RJ Barrett; two of those four add Reggie Bullock to the mix; and one – the best of all of them – is the exact starting lineup we’d see: Burks-Barrett-Bullock-Randle-Gibson.

I believe this move would help the team in a number of ways:

Since Rose became the starter, Burks has been bad. An unintended consequence of the swap (which I guess technically isn’t a swap since Payton hasn’t taken Rose’s place with the reserves) is that Burks is now the second unit’s primary ball-handler, which is


his game. A perfect example of his struggles in this role comes from a single play in Game 3: Burks missed Obi for an alley-oop: Obi kept running and found himself wide open in the corner; the Hawks’ defense scrambled, but somehow, no one found Obi – he was WIDE OPEN; Burks missed him again.

He’s simply not a point guard and would benefit from playing in a lineup where he can focus on what he does best: look to score. That’s why he makes sense with the starters. All season long, the offense has run through Randle and Barrett, anyway. Payton brought the ball up plenty, but more often than not, he gave it up to either wait for cutting opportunities or simply stay out of the way. Burks can play off the ball, spot-up ( shot 38% on catch-and-shoot 3s during the regular season), and when called upon – if everything breaks down – go get himself a bucket. Alleviating him from facilitating responsibilities may be just what he needs to bounce back.

Derrick Rose is at his best with the ball in his hands. Despite his improvement catching-and-shooting, you want Rose as a primary ball-handler. Which, with the starters, takes away from Randle and Barrett. Both showed signs of life in Game 4, but let’s put the ball in their hands more. Let’s live and die with the guys that brought us here. With Burks and Bullock off the ball – moving, cutting, relocating, always ready to shoot – perhaps the Hawks’ defense will have to adjust in a way that opens things up more for Julius and RJ.

Maybe the lineup shakeup – the presence of another shooting guard -awakens Bullock, who scored 0 points in Game 4 and is only 3 of his last 12.

Maybe the added size/length can provide a defensive boost, forcing Young to deal with 6’6 and up for most of his minutes.

If you’re reading closely, you feel my uncertainty. Maybe. Perhaps. 

Burks with the starters might not work. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and this desperate measure is based on two fundamental truths. starters have not thrived with Rose, and reserves absolutely, positively have.

That’s where this move most benefits the Knicks, with what Rose can do for that second unit.