Ron Baker has provided the Knicks with a spark off the bench as the team's third-string point guard, writes Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek has turned to Baker in the previous two games with the Knicks trailing in the fourth quarter in search of a lift on the offensive end. While his stats might not jump off the charts, his teammates come to life when he is on the court.
"When Ron gets in there, he gets it to Carmelo and K. P. and makes the right play," Hornacek said, referring to Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. "He's a smart, heady guy. I don't have to call plays when he has the ball. He's smart enough to just do that."
Baker, who signed with the Knicks as an undrafted free agent, can have his rookie contract guaranteed for the year if he remains on the active roster through Tuesday.
Dating back to training camp, there has been a level of uncertainty surrounding the Knicks and the point guard position. The skills of Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings represented upgrades from past years. Each one's injury history (and not to mention, Jennings' streakiness) created some doubt that the duo would be all the Knicks needed at the one, however.
In preseason play, Chasson Randle's potential was easy to identify. His flashy play was punctuated by an ability to penetrate and a pesky defensive nature. He was a seemingly perfect fit to help fill out New York's depth at the position. Unfortunately, an orbital injury derailed his hopes of making the final roster. What's more, team brass saw something worthwhile in the otherwise underrated Ron Baker.
Baker may not be as explosive or agile as Randle, but he too offers something extremely valuable to this team. Despite still being a rookie, Baker plays with an immense amount of maturity on the court. He's young and obviously hasn't had many opportunities to hit the hardwood. Nevertheless, he carries himself with plenty of poise. In a similar fashion to the way Lance Thomas (quite the role model for reserves looking to cement their niche and respective value) plays, Baker is someone who can find ways to contribute while playing alongside higher profile players. All of this also adds up to a player like him handling pressure well, too. He certainly has the respect of his teammates. >> Read more from Keith on Ron Baker from Jan. 7...