Going into the season, the Knicks might have the most question marks surrounding them. They made some questionable signings during the off-season, Carmelo Anthony has been in trade rumors dating back to last season and the team's success may fall on the shoulders of Kristaps Porzingis sooner than expected. However, one of the more important questions that need to be answered is who will be taking care of the ball handling duties for the team?
Last season, the team's starting point guard was Derrick Rose. Although he had a decent season, the Knicks decided to let him walk in free agency. Of course, that leaves them with a vacancy at the position. The problem is that the Knicks have either unproven or young talent that can fill it.
Today's NBA model requires a guard who can push the pace and set up their teammates or who can shoot the ball at an efficient rate. Counter to that, teams would love to have a player who can somewhat guard those positions. That is a tall task to ask of anyone let alone the players the Knicks have.
The Knicks are depending on sophomores Ron Baker or Chasson Randle, their pick from the draft, Frank Ntilikina and seasoned vet Ramon Sessions. None of these players really have the talent or the experience to step into a starting role right away. The one thing that the Knicks have going for them is that they are in a rebuilding phase. It's not like they are trying to win now so they have a lot of room for trial and error. With that, let's take a look at which of these guys is most likely to land the starting gig.
Ramon Sessions is the most recent acquisition of the four. The Knicks brought him on a one-year minimum deal earlier in the off-season. The Knicks most likely brought him in to be a veteran voice for the Knicks' younger players and to handle the ball in late-game situations. He hasn't had a decent season since his stint with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013-14. His stats certainly aren't anything to boast about as he averaged 6.2 PPG, 1.5 RPG and 2.6 APG with a .38/.34/.77 shooting split last season. Those are far from the ideal numbers a starting PG should have, especially in the three-point department. If Sessions does get the starting nod, it would be because of his experience and nothing more.
Ron Baker barely made the Knicks' roster to start his career. After going undrafted in 2016, he cracked the roster after an inconsistent Summer League performance. The only reason he probably made the team is that the Knicks needed to fill out their roster. He came off the bench most of the season and when he wasn't on the bench, he was spending time in the G-League. An injury to D Rose did help him bring up his averages a little bit, but nonetheless, he still has a lot of work to do before he can prove he's ready to take over.
Chasson Randle barely played last season, only totaling 26 games played. Of those 26 he played 18 with the Knicks and 8 with the Philadelphia 76ers. The fact of the matter is Randle simply doesn't have the experience to warrant a starting gig. However, his stats per 36 minutes are pretty good, with averages of 15.2 PPG, 4.5 APG and 4.3 RPG. He's also young so there is still time to develop his talent. It seems the best of course of action for the Knicks is to send him to the G-League, let him get some experience and maybe he can be a serious contributor for the team.
The Knicks' prized off-season acquisition, Ntilikina might be the player most fit to take this position. He still has a lot of question marks surrounding his play and how he will fit into the NBA. However, he has pro experience under his belt, having played for the Euroleague and earning two gold medals in the process. He also won the rising star award two seasons in a row, which is considered a high honor. That also means that the kid obviously has potential and his skill set backs that up. He can shoot the 3-ball really well with a .409% for his career in the LNB Pro A league. That number only got better in his game against the Under-18 European Championship where he shot a scorching .58% from deep. It's obvious that he can shoot the three. He can also distribute the ball fairly well after leading his team in APG at 4.5 a game during the same tournament and ranking among the top 10 in that category as well.
The big thing for the young player is how well can he handle the defensive capabilities against the golden age of point guards? No one is expecting Ntilikina to be a lockdown defender right out of the gate, but eventually, that's what the hope is. Of these four players, Ntilikina stands out as the player with the best chance of putting the clamps on the NBA's elite players. Standing at 6'5", he already has good size on him to put a hand up and make opponents take tough shots. Add in his 7-foot wingspan and he has an additional ability to disrupt passing lanes. Having that size will also allow him to switch fairly well on to bigger players.
All in all, the other players just don't have the same promise that Ntilikina has. None of them have proven themselves in any capacity to warrant them as the starting PG. Ntilikina, on the other hand, has already accomplished more than them and he hasn't even stepped foot onto an NBA court yet. Giving Ntilikina the starting nod will also give him a chance to start building with Kristaps Porzingis. The future of the team appears to be in their hands.