OTH Starting Five: New York Knicks
During the next month with overtimeheroics.net, each NBA team will be broken down into who should start at all five positions. Each day two teams will be dropped as OTH builds up to the greatest starting fives of this season. These projected lineups are not only the “best fit” lineups. Each writer also will take in to consideration the rumors surrounding each team. Now up: New York Knicks.
After missing out on marquee free agents, the upcoming season looks bleak for New York. In saying that there is a glimmer of hope for the Madison Square Garden squad. The Knicks mad some questionable yet solid signings this offseason. With the third overall pick the Knicks grabbed the promising shooting guard from Duke, RJ Barrett. Let’s take a look at how the Knicks starting lineup could unfold.
Point Guard- Dennis Smith Jr.
2018 Stats: 13.6 points/4.8 assists/2.9 rebounds
At only 21 years old, DSJ could be the player to make the biggest jump and have a breakout season. Smith contains elite athleticism, offensive prowess, and his ceiling is through the roof.
According to DSJ he has been working on his jumpshot, “ “It’s a big difference,” Smith told The Athletic on Thursday. “It’s a really big difference. I can feel it. Everybody can see it, from my pops and my friends. Adding that to my game and getting consistent, I think that’s going to open up the floor, not only for me but for everybody else and make my reads a lot easier. It’s major for me.”
Smith Jr. showed off his abilities while playing for Dallas but became a minor clog in the Porzingus trade. Dennis, will be given the opportunity to be the guy in New York at the point guard position. If DSJ can tap into his potential he could be a focal point for the team in years to come.
Shooting Guard- RJ Barrett
Projected 2019 Stats: 14.7 points/ 3.8 assists/ 6.6 rebounds
With the third pick in the 2019 NBA draft the Knick selected RJ Barrett. They didn’t get Zion like they wanted to but RJ is no scrub. Barrett is a natural scorer and he made his ability known when he averaged 22.6 points per game at Duke (exactly what Zion averaged). He had a rough start in the Summer League but settled down, playing well overall. Barrett does not have blazing speed, instead he uses his quickness, change of direction, and strength to impact the game.
Small Forward- Kevin Knox
2018 Stats: 12.8 points/ 1.1 assists/ 4.5 rebounds
At small forward is Knicks Fans’ darling Kevin Knox. Knox was just a teenager last year so there is a lot of time to let the young man develop. Still trying to find his niche, Knox was not a very efficient shooter. The rookie put up a lot of shots missing a good majority of them. His defense leaves much to be desired but Knicks are banking on the fact that there is plenty of time for him to improve. Knox has something to prove in response to him not being named to the All-Rookie team.
“Yeah, of course I deserved to make it,” Knox said during Summer League . “But it was definitely motivation. I worked hard this summer. That was kind of a chip on my shoulder for me to work hard this summer. Definitely, it was motivation. I’m going to use it for summer. I’m going to keep using it for next year.” If Knox is able to continue to progress and work hard, the fans will love him even more when and if it translates to wins.
Power Forward- Julius Randle
2018 Stats: 21.4 points/ 3.1 assists/ 8.7 rebounds
From the Lakers, to the Pelicans, and now to the Knicks, Julius Randle has been overlooked during his 5 year career. Randle has improved statistically every year and he is showing no sign of slowing down. He was the Knicks biggest free agent signing at $63 million over 3 years. In 2018 he had his best season to date averaging a career high 21.4 points.
Randle is a stud offensively, from his ball handling down to his impressive footwork down low. Not to mention he is only 24 years old and it seems as if his best basketball is ahead of him. He has shown that he can be the primary scorer that the Knicks desperately need. Randles game is still developing and that can be scary for the rest of the league.
Center- Mitchell Robinson
2018 Stats: 7.3 points/ 6.4 rebounds/ 2.5 blocks
The rookie that took the NBA by surprise last year. The second round pick didn’t initially get as much coverage as teammate Kevin Knox, but that is no longer the case. Robinson broke franchise records as a rookie, the greatest being most consecutive games with at least two blocks (29) surpassing Patrick Ewing. Even playing just 20 minutes a game, Robinson was second in the entire NBA with 2.5 blocks per game.
One downside to his defensive ability is that he often gets lost in rotation and he seems to eager to leave his man for help defense or to attempt to block a shot. Offensively he managed to shoot 69% which is impressive by itself, let alone a rookie. If Robinson is able to take the next step, the sky is the limit for him.
Young But Growing
Given that the Knicks are currently rebuilding, they still have a chance on making an impact. They have a very young team in fact the age of this projected lineup is 20.8 years old! That would be the youngest starting lineup in the NBA. There will be growing pains, as there would be with any young team. Attention Knicks fans, there is legitimate cause for optimism.
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