New York Knicks: 4 attainable goals for the 2019-20 season

David Fizdale, New York Knicks. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
David Fizdale, New York Knicks. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks
New York Knicks. Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

4. Fix their point guard problem

I debated whether or not this was more about the Knicks finding an identity at the point guard position or finding the primary ball-handler. Either way, both will prove to be difficult this year. As of right now, Dennis Smith Jr., Elfrid Payton, Frank Ntilikina, and RJ Barrett are all guys that can take the ball up the floor and run the offense. This is a great problem to have for Head Coach, David Fizdale in terms of depth. On the other hand, it’s not the greatest thing when personalities and egos get in the way.

Barrett isn’t much of a concern on this topic because he’s a rookie. Rookies aren’t generally going to come into the league with a big ego. They’ll play a lot of team basketball unless they’re unquestionably the best player on the team. Barrett has the potential to be that type of player but not yet, so I expect him to take a back seat and want to be more of a team player.

For the other players on the team like Smith, Payton, and Ntilikina, the deadline for all three of them to renew their deals or find somewhere else to play is 2021. They are all fighting for their next contract, so they have something to prove.

I’m not saying any of that trio will be ball hogs, but they are looking to get paid and show that they are a starting point guard in the NBA. In terms of an all-around ability to run an offense, I think the season will start with Smith and Payton Rotating in and out. As the season progresses, that arrangement could easily change.

Somewhere around the All-Star break, then the offense will evolve and run through Barrett. Players like Smith and Payton will still get consistent minutes but start to take a back seat to the rookie. This might not bode well with the locker room chemistry but the only way this team will see the most success is if their all-world level rookie has the ball in his hands when it really matters.

It’ll be a tough ask for Fizdale to find his guy because the Knicks have had a point guard problem since he started in New York. The coach hasn’t had to necessarily worry about giving one guy more control of the ball than others because the team hasn’t been good.

He’s been able to weigh his options and spread out minutes between players. Now that the Knicks are on the cusp of being a playoff team, he needs to find the right formula that will work for the future. That formula will ultimately lie in the hands of Barrett.