New York Knicks Frank Ntilikina
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David Fizdale sticks to his word. The New York Knicks head coach is starting Frank Ntilikina in lieu of rookie Kevin Knox.

David Fizdale came into town touting the message that each player will have to earn his keep. Thus far, Fizdale is practicing what he preaches. The New York Knicks starting lineup consists of the players who clearly earned their starting roles.

The biggest surprise is that Frank Ntilikina is starting in place of Kevin Knox. But after watching the preseason, it’s clear that Ntilikina deserves the starting role. He can guard multiple positions effectively and he’s showing signs of offensive improvement.

Many felt that Ntilikina should start over Trey Burke, but both guards played well enough in training camp and the preseason to warrant starting roles.

Knox is a multi-talented player with a sky-high ceiling, but he struggled at times in the preseason. This isn’t a demotion for Knox. He’s still going to play a lot and if he plays well, he’ll find himself playing during crunch time. Furthermore, playing against second units could help Knox get acclimated to the NBA game.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter, and Lance Thomas were near-guarantees to crack the starting lineup. All three bring experience and stability to the starting unit. Hardaway is the most polished all-around scorer of the bunch. Enes Kanter and Lance Thomas are the leaders of the team and Fizdale can’t say enough about those two.

The starting lineup on opening night is always a big deal. But the lineup will change throughout the season and a bunch of different guys will get an opportunity to start.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.