Let’s take a look at the 2021-22 New York Knicks by breaking down this rejuvenated backcourt led by Kemba Walker.
“Mr. New York” is coming home to be the starting point guard for the New York Knicks. That’s right Kemba Walker is finally coming home to play in a place where he already has so many incredible moments — Madison Square Garden.
Walker brings experience to a backcourt that has it in spades. Derrick Rose will be backing up Walker this year. Not to mention, Alec Burks is the definition of an NBA journeyman, but he seems to have found a home in New York.
But don’t forget about the youth — namely Immanuel Quickley and Duece McBride. Quickley will have a major role on this team while McBride will have to bide his time until he gets an opportunity.
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau tends to stick to rigid lineups and rotations, but there is some flex on how we categorize the roster. Let’s take a look at the guards in the first installment of our 2021-22 New York Knicks season preview.
X-Factor: Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker is on the wrong side of 30, but he was an All-Star as recently as 2020. His 2020-21 campaign was marked by injuries and inconsistency.
However, optimism is engulfing Walker in New York right now. The hometown hero was the star of Knicks media day, but can he still be a star on the floor too?
Reacting to a quiet Knicks media day…@mitchyfresh1400, @ChipMurphy7 & @dwsmall8 talk with @geoff_boy_ardee about Knicks media day, preview the upcoming season, and try to figure out what the hell is going on with Kyrie Irving.#NewYorkForeverhttps://t.co/BUwSjAdjCy
— Knicks State of Mind Podcast (@NYKSOMPodcast) September 29, 2021
There is no question about it — Kemba Walker is the X-factor in the backcourt. If he returns to All-Star form, the Knicks can be extremely dangerous in the Eastern Conference. Walker is a pull-up king who can create his own shot out of thin air.
He is exactly what they were missing when they lost to the Atlanta Hawks in five games.
Super Subs: Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley
Rose is the facilitator who runs the offense while Quickley is free to play off the ball. This backcourt partnership started to pick up serious steam soon after the Knicks traded for Rose last year.
Rose has already told us that he knows Walker is the starting point guard. That means The Rose and Quickley bench backcourt will be ready to run it back for a full year.
Chameleon: Alec Burks
Yes, Alec Burks should probably be listed with the wings and he could even be a “Super Sub” with Quickley and Rose. However, it only makes sense to put Burks down as the resident “Chameleon.”
When the Knicks are fully healthy, Burks will be used as a wing off the bench, but he can handle the ball as well. Thibs trusted Burks to run the point at times last season and it’s safe to expect that at some point again in 2021-22.
Let’s face it, Walker and Rose are not going to be able to play all 82 games. When that happens, look for Thibs to use Quickley and Burks as the primary ballhandlers on the second unit.
Is Burks a wing or a guard? There is no right answer there, but we know he is going to play a complementary role off the bench.
Patience: Deuce McBride
Anyone in Deuce McBride’s ear should be preaching patience. The West Virginia product had a strong showing in Las Vegas Summer League. He’s a gritty, tough defender with some shotmaking ability. He fits quite well into what Thibodeau looks for in players.
With all that said, Thibs is not known for his willingness to play rookies. Even when injuries occur, the longtime bench boss tends to shorten his rotations before he opts to play an untested rookie.
The opportunities might be few and far between for McBride in the short term, but opportunities will be there in the long run.
See Ya: Luca Vildoza
This is a tough one because Luca Vildoza sounded like a promising signing. The Argentian guard was underwhelming in the Olympics before missing Las Vegas Summer League with an injury. Unfortunately, Vildoza was wearing a walking boot when training camp opened on Tuesday.
He’s fighting for one last roster spot and his non-guaranteed deal makes him a prime candidate to cut. If he can’t play, his chances of making the Knicks are slim and none.