Five years. Five different starting point guards on opening night. Is this the year the New York Knicks finally get it right?
Ever since the 2013-14 season, the New York Knicks have gone into the regular season with a new starting point guard year in and out. That means opening night of the 2017-18 season will mark the fifth consecutive year the Knicks go into the regular season with a new face running the point.
So let’s take a drive down memory lane, shall we? Here’s a look back at every point guard the Knicks have had over the past five years.
Raymond Felton (2013-14)
After going 54-28 in the 2012-13 season, the Knicks opted to remain with Raymond Felton at the point. But despite looking like a potential long-term answer the previous year, Felton struggled to produce at a reliable level in 2013-14.
Averaging just under 10 points per game, Felton’s offensive impact was limited. Felton also saw a drop in his efficiency, in regards to his shooting percentage from the field, beyond the arc and at the free throw line. In addition to his shooting woes, Felton also appeared to be a tad bit slower than he was the year before.
As a result of his disappointing play, the Knicks opted to shake things up, making a multi-player deal to upgrade at the point guard position—which ended Felton’s second stint in the Big Apple.
Shane Larkin (2014-15)
Executing a multi-player deal with the Dallas Mavericks, the Knicks netted point guards Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin. In doing so, the Knicks felt they may have found some nice new backcourt pieces for the foreseeable future.
After Calderon suffered a preseason calf injury, Larkin ended up getting the starting nod on opening night.
The 5’11” Larkin got off to a solid start in the opening month of the year. He showcased the ability to serve as a facilitator and hit the open jumper. But once Calderon came back from injury, Larkin’s role was significantly reduced; the midseason emergence of Langston Galloway was another factor working against the University of Miami standout.
But even after Calderon went down with a season-ending knee injury, Larkin failed to show any sort of spark or promise. His inability to do so and being outplayed by Galloway led to the two sides parting ways via free agency.
Jose Calderon (2015-16)
Finally healthy, Calderon was able to start on opening night for the Knicks in 2015. Tailor-made for Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, he played with a selfless mentality and hit the outside jumper, but could not provide the Knicks with a reliable scoring outlet.
While he’s never been classified as a go-to scorer, Calderon’s 7.6 points per game and below average defense were underwhelming.
At the end of the day, while he was ultimately a great fit in the triangle, the Knicks came to the realization that they needed a scoring point guard if they aspired to be a playoff team. That thinking led them to execute a deal with the Chicago Bulls to acquire former NBA MVP Derrick Rose—sending Calderon, Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant to the Windy City.
Derrick Rose (2016-17)
After orchestrating the blockbuster of the summer, the Knicks felt they had finally found their point guard of the future in Rose. While it was well-known that he likely wouldn’t rekindle any of his past heroics, the Knicks felt Rose could still provide them with a scoring presence in their backcourt—which they had been deprived of in year’s past.
Posting 18 points a night, Rose gave the Knicks the scoring point guard they sought. Unfortunately, the issues surrounding him elsewhere, as well as the Knicks struggles as a whole, made his time in New York disappointing.
Ranging from going AWOL for a home game, to even enduring a meniscus tear towards the end of the season, Rose was thrown a number of curveballs in his time with the Knicks. Those hurdles, paired with the team’s inability to put together a playoff season, made the addition of Rose a failure for the Knicks. It wasn’t all his fault, but the Knicks acquired Rose to help lift them to a playoff berth and they were unable to accomplish such a feat.
The Knicks let Rose walk in free agency over the summer.
Ramon Sessions? Frank Ntilikina? Ron Baker? (2017-18)
At the moment, the Knicks starting point guard gig is up for grabs. Despite selecting French point guard Frank Ntilikina with the eighth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Knicks don’t appear keen on starting him from the get-go based on his age (19) and thin 6’5″, 190-pound frame.
Their doubts surrounding the Frenchman led them to sign veteran point guard Ramon Sessions to a one-year deal. The 31-year-old may very well get the starting nod based on his experience at the NBA level—which Ntilikina does not possess. If the team isn’t comfortable with Sessions due to his age or injury history, Ron Baker is the other option.
The second-year Baker played both lead and off-guard for Jeff Hornacek last season. And regardless of whether it’s his natural position or not, Baker will likely get serious consideration for the starting gig; That’s due to him being familiar with Hornacek and the fact that he’s the longest tenured Knick out of the three.
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In reality, a case could be made for all three of them to start. Ntilikina was taken in the top ten and playing him could allow the Knicks to access his readiness to start at the NBA level.
Sessions is the veteran and could provide a bridge for Ntilikina to start midseason, while Baker has the experience in the Knicks’ system.
But regardless of which one of the three starts, it’ll mark the fifth consecutive year where the Knicks enter opening night with a new starting point guard—which is remarkable.