Jarrett Jack Has Been the Missing Piece to the New York Knicks’ Puzzle
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 24: Jarrett Jack #55 of the New York Knicks dribbles against the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter at TD Garden on October 24, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Knicks 110-89. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Since assuming the starting point guard role last week, Jarrett Jack has blossomed both on and off the court for the New York Knicks.

The Knicks are an improbable 3-4 this season, thanks in large part to Kristaps Porzingis‘s dominance and a rather positive debut from Frank Ntilikina. But lost in all of the chatter is Jarret Jack’s resurgence, not on the court, but rather off of it.

Jack, 34, has been the common denominator in the Knicks’ three wins, not because he’s dominated at the point or put up flashy numbers, but because he’s been such a positive influence on his teammates.

“I’m just a piece to the puzzle,” Jack said, according to Fred Kerber of the New York Post. “I believe everybody has an overall responsibility and I just think mine is being that calming presence, trying to lead and direct guys, put them in positions where they can be most comfortable, most successful. And it’s translated into some wins.”

During the first three games of the season, Jack was not given much of a chance to prove his worth, and when he was, it was only for short stretches of time. The next three games, however, were a completely different story. Not only did Jack start at the one, he was as vocal of a leader as the Knicks have had in years.

“It doesn’t matter if he’s on the bench or if he’s starting playing one minute or 48 minutes,” center Enes Kanter told Kerber. “I see him, he’s speaking every time. He’s the leader of this team he just tries to help everybody.”

This has been most evident with Ntilikina, the rookie point guard from France. A top-10 pick in this year’s draft, Ntilikina is a project in every sense of the term. He’s still growing into his frame and hasn’t emerged as a floor general. Jack, a 14-year veteran, considers mentoring Ntilikina one of his biggest objectives as a Knick.

While it isn’t currently on his radar, Jack could go into coaching when his playing career is over. “He’s just a phenomenal basketball mind,” a Knicks media personality told me. “I don’t think it would surprise anybody — anybody — if he lands a coaching gig in the future.”

Jeff Hornacek, the Knicks’ second-year head coach, agrees.

“When things get crazy, he can get us into something, and he guides us, too,” Hornacek remarked to Kerber. “He’s a thinking point guard. If some guy hasn’t had a shot in a while, he’s going to figure out a way to get him the ball. If somebody’s hot, he’s going to figure out a way to give him the ball. He’s out there thinking about the game.

“Jarrett is a veteran guy who’s really done a nice job finding the mismatch when there is one, getting the guy who’s hot, make sure he calls a play for that person. He’s just a good team leader that way.”

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.