What can be expected from Knicks’ second unit in 2022-23?

Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier, New York Knicks. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier, New York Knicks. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks, Obi Toppin
Obi Toppin, New York Knicks. (Photo by Tom Horak/USA TODAY Sports) /

The Knicks will be navigating positional logjams

The most prevalent of the awkward/concerning storylines surrounding the Knicks’ second unit right now is the conversation over who should be a starter and who should be a backup between Quentin Grimes and Evan Fournier. Many fans, myself included, believe that Grimes is the better option as a starter because he fulfills the obvious need for shooting in the starting lineup while also being a more than capable defender.

Fournier has proven to be detrimental on defense. And now, with the small and defensively challenged Jalen Brunson suiting up as the team’s starting point guard, fans fear they’ll be forced to watch the sequel to the defensive disaster that was the Kemba Walker/Fournier backcourt last season if the Frenchman remains in the starting five. Some fans have even tried to promote the concept of Cam Reddish starting (more on that soon).

Fans have made it clear that Fournier starting again would be like a bad dream, and comments made by Thibodeau make it seem like that nightmare will become a reality.

Thankfully, though, there is a plausible reason for this quote. The Knicks’ faithful should come off of the ledge, because it looks like Thibs was willing to name Fournier as the frontrunner so quickly due to Grimes currently being injured.

WAIT! I said you can come OFF the ledge! Grimes’ injury is not considered serious, so he will still get a good chance to battle Fournier for the starting shooting guard position in camp. No matter who starts, at least the Knicks will be lucky to have two great snipers at their disposal.

Okay, back to Cam Reddish. Some people can’t help but to drool over the potential that Reddish’s long frame and skillset have flashed ever since he was in high school, and they think he should be given every opportunity to grow into the star they believe he can become by naming him as a starter. However, I think even such fans will agree it is only fair that Reddish earns it, and that is all but guaranteed to be what he will have to do to have a shot at even cracking the rotation.

We all know how Thibodeau is with his minutes distribution; he clearly has favorites who he will play until their knees are ground into chalk powder while deliberately leaving other players at the end of the bench to fight for scraps. Reddish will have to earn his keep, meaning he likely won’t see the court for the first few games or so, but I think it is too early to say he will get zero burn early in the year. As training camp progresses, we will have to keep our eyes on this story.

Then, there is Obi Toppin. Unfortunately, it looks like it will be the same old sad story for Toppin to start 2022-23. Coach Thibodeau is not thrilled by the prospect of playing Toppin alongside Julius Randle in lineups this season, so don’t expect that to be the solution to Obi seeing an uptick in his minutes. Per usual, Thibs stated that a player’s time on the court will reflect what they have earned in his eyes.

On the bright side, the head coach has had many positive things to say about Toppin’s development over the last several months. But, that may still not be enough to convince him to take minutes away from Randle to give to Toppin. We won’t know for sure until the games begin.