The New York Knicks fell to 4-17 on the year after a demoralizing 132-88 loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
Allonzo Trier scored 10 points in the first half while hitting 3 of his five field-goal attempts, but stayed on the bench for the remainder of the game. This marks another confusing and alarming chapter in his 2019-20 season, which has gotten off to a rough start.
Trier had a solid first season after going undrafted in 2018, averaging 10.9 points per game on 45% shooting while receiving some votes for the All-Rookie Second Team.
Head coach David Fizdale has been tough on Trier this season, as the 23-year old has played in just ten games and is averaging only under 14 minutes per contest. The drastic reduction in playing time is startling, but is there a good reason to justify it?
A knock on Trier coming out of college was that he sometimes struggled with tunnel vision, which was evident in his first year with the pros. Despite his impressive ability to finish inside, he rarely ever kicked the ball out to the perimeter on his forays into the paint. His career averages of 1.8 turnovers and 1.8 assists clearly show that he still has a lot to work on.
However, David Fizdale isn’t putting him in the best place to succeed and has often had him playing out of position. Trier has spent 62% of his minutes as a point guard this year, and he even started the season opener at the one spot.
Fizdale can sometimes experiment with having ball-dominant players take the rock up and down the court instead of a true point guard, which has led to mixed results. He has with guys like Mario Hezonja, Julius Randle, and R.J. Barrett in addition to Trier. His handles are impressive, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to facilitate an offense.
Speaking of offense, Allonzo Trier’s attacking style of play has vastly improved. He’s averaging just under 8 points per game while shooting 51% from the field and 46% from three. Given his small sample size, his numbers equate to 20.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per 36 minutes.
The Knicks currently rank dead last in the NBA in points per game as well as team field goal percentage, so benching Trier isn’t doing them any favors.
While the former Arizona star has admittedly struggled on defense, his woes on the less glamorous end of the court are similar to early rotation staples like Wayne Ellington and Bobby Portis. Fizdale’s decision to give the veterans time to work through their mistakes while benching members of the team’s young core for errors is extremely counterproductive to the rebuilding nature of the Knicks.
Frank Ntilikina‘s improvement this year has largely come as a result of more playing time, similar to Mitchell Robinson last season. Allonzo Trier is going to be a restricted free agent at the end of the year, and the New York Knicks should let him have every opportunity to improve until then.