Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
We'll learn a lot about the Knicks starting point guard position this week (more on that below), but don't be surprised if you see RJ Barrett handling the ball at times for New York.
"I've thrown him at that position a couple times already," David Fizdale said Tuesday. "He played some of that in college. I think it adds another layer to how dynamic he can be. Especially having somebody that big that can switch things do some different things defensively. So yeah, I'll sprinkle that in."
Fizdale has mentioned Barrett, Julius Randle and Marcus Morris as potential non-point guard ball-handlers in his offense.
He said on Monday that Barrett's played well with the ball in his hands during scrimmages and the preseason.
"He's really poised. He looks comfortable," Fizdale said. "The kid likes having the ball in his hands. He's unselfish. He finds people. He understands - he knows our plays from that position. I feel very comfortable if I have to throw him there."
Barrett averaged 4.3 assists per game at Duke, showing NBA evaluators that he's comfortable with the ball in his hands.
"I'm going to try to keep picking my spots and try to continue doing what I do," Barrett said. When Barrett, the No. 3 overall pick, was asked if he is ready to handle the ball/make plays in the NBA, he said, "If I didn't, I wouldn't be here."
Barrett is averaging 16 points and 7 rebounds in 37 minutes over his first two preseason games.
"I've been OK. Played pretty good defense the first game, not so much the second game. But I think I'm pretty decent overall," he said, when asked to evaluate his preseason thus far.
'Huge' stretch in point guard battle
Frank Ntilikina returned to practice on Tuesday after missing Monday's practice with a groin issue. Ntilikina missed nearly six weeks last year with a groin strain but said that Monday's ailment had nothing to do with that injury.
He described it as 'a little tight, tightness. I think it's just a good training camp, good competition. So it's just managing my body. But nothing major. I feel great."
Ntilikina is competing with Dennis Smith Jr. and Elfrid Payton for the starting position. Smith Jr. will play on Wednesday against Atlanta after missing the first two preseason games with a back strain.
Fizdale said the next two games will be 'huge' in determining his opening night starter at point guard. He said no one has an edge at this point.
Here's Fizdale when he was asked if it's important for his starting point guard to be a scorer: "More than anything it's got to be a guy that's a threat, that could put pressure on the defense I feel like. The biggest thing is, is he guarding his position? Is he pushing the pace? Is he getting us organized. Those are the most important areas for me. But at the same time I feel like you still have to be a threat out there from that position."
If you look at Ntilikina's plus-minus stats, he has helped the Knicks excel on the court. New York was a plus-16 in his 23 minutes in the opener and even in 19 minutes during the Knicks' 16-point loss to Washington on Wednesday.
Fizdale said he'll use the plus-minus as one tool for evaluation.
"But at the same time plus/minus is not just that one guy. His plus-minus score is based on the other four guys that are on the floor with him," he said. "So based on the groups that he's out there with a lot of times that could effect his personal plus/minus."
Payton went 0-for-9 in the loss to Washington, along with eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Here's how Fizdale assessed his performance: "Just Elfrid being Elfrid. The only thing that I think was frustrating for him was he didn't finish those hippies around the rim. He had probably five or six around the basket that he usually makes. The way he pushes the ball, the way he competes on the ball, those are the things I really like about him."
Barrett on KP
Last month, Barrett mentioned Kristaps Porzingis Bleacher Report AMA when asked about players he'd like to dunk on. He subsequently downplayed the idea that he's hunting for Porzingis.
"To be honest, I think it's about anybody. Anytime I get the opportunity -- who wouldn't," he said earlier this month. "Everyone wants to dunk on everybody. Anytime I get the opportunity I'm going to try."
Porzingis responded recently. He said it was a good goal for Barrett to have because Porzingis is a great shot blocker.
Barrett said on Tuesday that he hadn't seen the response. When told about it, he said, "He is, he's a great shot blocker."
Fizdale was asked if he had any reaction to the negative reaction to LeBron James' comments about Daryl Morey/the NBA/China. "No reaction. I don't have any comment on it."