Elfrid Payton will miss the New York Knicks’ game against the Orlando Magic and the team’s point guard depth will be tested.
The competition for minutes at point guard is one of the most compelling storylines around the New York Knicks this season. The team announced on Tuesday that Elfrid Payton will miss their game against the Orlando Magic with a right hamstring strain.
Payton left Monday’s game in the third quarter against the Chicago Bulls. Additionally, Dennis Smith Jr.‘s status is uncertain after the sudden and tragic death of a close family member. The team is fully supporting Smith at this point in time.
As it stands, it looks like Frank Ntilikina and RJ Barrett will split time at point guard. Ntilikina was held scoreless against the Chicago Bulls on Monday. However, his positive impact on the game was indisputable.
David Fizdale says Frank Ntilikina was "fantastic" tonight:
"He set the tone defensively…the thing I'm proud of is how he kept himself ready" pic.twitter.com/kRtHhznijq
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) October 29, 2019
“It didn’t matter,” head coach David Fizdale said of Ntilikina’s 0-for-6 shooting. “His minutes were fantastic. He guarded, he set the tone defensively, he made some nice plays to set people up, he got us organized. The shots will fall for him.”
Despite his inconsistent offense, Ntilikina is an elite defender with NBA All-Defensive potential.
It’s unclear whether or not Fizdale will choose to start Ntilikina or slide Barrett to point guard with Allonzo Trier or Wayne Ellington starting at shooting guard. Fiz will have to stagger Ntilikina and Barrett’s minutes to some extent.
Barrett is turning heads after four games. He’s averaging 20.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. The rookie is incredibly polished on the interior and he has had no trouble using his size to finish through contact.
The Knicks will look to build on their stunning come-from-behind victory over the Bulls in Orlando on Wednesday (7:00 p.m. ET).