It’s time for Derek Fisher and the New York Knicks to realize there are two guards on the team who deserve more minutes: Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant.
New York Knicks (21-22)
Utah Jazz (18-23)
Today, 7:30 PM on ROOT, MSG
Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, New York
By Robby Sabo
Never was it more evident during Madison Square Garden’s latest epic Martin Luther King Day matinee.
The newest surprising plus point guard of the Philadelphia 76ers, Ish Smith, was tearing up the New York Knicks defense. Every time he had the ball he was literally – as Walt “Clyde” Frazier puts it – dancing and prancing his way through the matador defense of the Knicks.
He maneuvered his way to a career game of 16 points and 16 dimes.
The main culprit? Jose Calderon.
Listen, it’s simply not Calderon’s fault. At this point in the 34-year old’s career, he’s a backup NBA point guard. He can serve a purpose coming off the bench in a pinch while adding some veteran leadership and organization out there on the floor. From time to time, he can drain a big shot.
This is Derek Fisher’s fault.
How the second-year head coach hasn’t realized both Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant need more minutes on the floor is one of the more befuddling issues through the first 43 games of the 2015-16 campaign.
Galloway, the kid who fought his way onto the roster in a wasted season a year ago, represents what citizens of the Big Apple love. He’s a fighter.
Because Ish Smith abused Calderon so badly in crunch-time, Fisher actually made a move no Knick fan can ever remember seeing: he took out Calderon.
In came Galloway and instantaneously the Knicks defense starting coming together as a unit. Don’t be confused for one moment, as Galloway is no elite defender, but he can at least move and compete against the quicker point guards these Knicks so often struggle with.
His grit at resulted in a few blocks from behind near the rim this season (including one against those 76ers in a big spot on Monday and one against defending dunk champion Zach LaVine earlier in the year):
Granted, Galloway isn’t a true point guard either. At the same time though, is his 3.3 assist/turnover ratio that much worse than Calderon’s 3.4 mark?
Then we have the rookie, Jerian Grant.
That confidence issue is every reason Fisher needs to find him more playing time.
For all the negatives you can point to with the Notre Dame product, the positives are that much more promising.
When Grant is on the floor – usually with the second unit – the entire team plays faster. Once he receives the outlet, the rest of the squad is up and running because they know the lightning quick Grant will be pushing the tempo.
This is something Calderon just cannot provide. There’s reason the Knicks rank dead last in transition points per game (8.7).
Going into tonight’s game, Calderon is starting every contest and receiving 27.8 minutes a night. Galloway is at 23.9 while Grant sits at 15.9.
There is no excuse for this.
Galloway needs to be closer to the 30 minute mark, while Grant creeps near 20 by year’s end. They are a younger, faster, more exciting bunch with either of them playing the point.
The biggest reason Calderon’s minutes need to decrease though, is directly related to keeping the defensive structure tight. When the point guard is allowing penetration too easily it crumbles any strategy from a defensive point of view.
Galloway and Grant are coming fast and furious. Please, Fish, don’t slow them down.