Nov 22, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) reacts during the first half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking The Bench Players

Zach: Both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers get less bench production than the Knicks. There’s just one issue: the Knicks aren’t the Cavs nor the Warriors.

When Jeff Hornacek looks at his reserves, Brandon Jennings is first off the bench. And rightfully so. Despite being one of the NBA’s worst shooters his exuberance and energy of the bench help liven his teammates, and he does a surprisingly good job of finding guys in the open floor; he leads the Knicks with 5.3 assists a night.

Moreover, he’s the kind of gritty, pesky ball player that New Yorkers love. (I’m not a Knicks fan, but I’ve lived in New York my whole life, and I love watching Jennings go out there and play with an unmatched swagger and flash.)

After that, it’s a hodge-podge of guys who do are decent enough to hold down the fort. Kyle O’Quinn and Justin Holiday are two who immediately come to mind, and they’ve carved out niches on defense (KOQ) and as a three-point specialist (Holiday). Aside from Willy Hernangomez, none of the other bench guys (Ron Baker, Sasha Vujacic, Maurice Ndour) have dazzled enough to get minutes.

Billy: Unquestionably, Brandon Jennings is the best player on the Knicks bench. He leads all bench players in points and assists, as well as being just two shy of leading the bench in steals.

After Jennings, the reserves get a bit muddled, but the next tier of guys in the second unit is Kyle O’ Quinn, Justin Holiday, and Lance Thomas. O’Quinn has had a stellar season for the Knicks and put up massive numbers when called upon during Joakim Noah’s injury. Holiday, considered a throw-in in the Derrick Rose trade, has been a surprisingly versatile guard, capable of doing a bit of everything, albeit not at an elite level. Finally, Thomas has become a consistent bench scorer, though injuries have kept him out for much of the year.

Rounding out the rotation is Willie Hernangomez and Mindaugas Kuzminskas, two first year Euros who are rounding into form. Certainly, both guys have shown flashes of talent, but neither has been able to crack into the upper echelon of bench guys for the Knicks.

The likes of Ron Baker, Maurice Ndour, Sasha Vujacic and Marshall Plumlee fall into the “in case of emergency” category of bench players, and should only play if the Knicks succumb to injuries down the stretch.

Chip: Kyle O’Quinn has turned around his career under new head coach Jeff Hornacek. After struggling in an inconsistent rotation under Derek Fisher, O’Quinn is thriving in a new offense. He’s made an impact on the offensive glass and with his mid-range shooting. With Joakim Noah being such a disappointment the Knicks have needed O’Quinn even more than they thought.

Justin Holiday was a throw-in as a part of the Derrick Rose trade. His anticipated role was as a fringe rotation player. Instead, Holiday has become one of the Knicks most valuable role players. He is making threes at a high clip (.371) and playing good defense on the wing.

Brandon Jennings has exceeded expectations in his sixth man role. The fact that he’s made such a seamless transition into a pass-first point guard is impressive and shows his will to win. Jennings has been more than just his stats in New York. He signed a discount deal because he wanted to be a Knick. Willy Hernangomez was a fan favorite before he even came to the NBA. He was known only as a friend and teammate to Kristaps Porzingis but was enough to encourage fans to his potential. Hernangomez’s per-36 numbers are off the charts, and he’s become one of the team’s best rebounders.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas has been aggressive from his first game. His playing time has gone down with the return of Lance Thomas. Hornacek is giving the veteran the benefit of the doubt right now to try and prove himself ahead of the rookie. Lance Thomas might end up at the top of this list by season’s end. He’s been playing hurt since the start of the season, but the Knicks went 7-3 in the ten games he missed making fans turn against him. LT earned the right to more time.

The end of the bench is a huge drop-off. In limited minutes, Maurice Ndour has provided the Knicks with the expected defense and rebounding. Ron Baker has become a fan favorite over the past couple of games. It was mostly because of his hair. He can shoot a little, though.

Marshall Plumlee has only appeared in three games. He’s lived up to his scouting report. He plays hard and can do little on offense. Sasha Vujacic is bad. He’s made just 5 of his 19 threes and lost the third point guard spot to Baker.

I'm obsessed with basketball. I play (my hesi pull-up Jimbo is cash), I write and cover the Nets here at ESNY. My work has been seen on Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated and FanSided. I also run my company, TBN Media. My favorite NBA player is Isaiah Thomas because I can look him in the eye.