Concerning Stat Could Force New York Knicks to Change Starters

new york knicks starting lineup change

Getty Alec Burks defends Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The New York Knicks are stumbling after getting off to a hot start to the year, buoyed by a double overtime win in the season opener against the Boston Celtics.

On paper, the additions of Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker looked to be very good, and the two have put up some strong performances, but the Knicks still might be forced to make a change based on a disturbing trend.

The trend in question is the Knicks starting lineup being outscored by 14.4 points per 100 possessions and posting a defensive rating of 119.3. Of course, nobody signs Walker or Fournier for their defense, but when that’s coupled with the fact that the Knicks just can’t get healthy at the center position, it just creates problems all over the place.

Do The Knicks Need a Change?

As pointed out by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, the stats don’t look good for the starters. The lineup of Walker, Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson have played more minutes than any lineup in the NBA, and they are not looking good together.

It’s tough to pick out exactly what’s wrong with the lineup, but some of it could come down to one of Thibodeau’s criticisms over the years and it’s that he sticks with his veterans for too long.

Randle is averaging 35.9 minutes per game, which is good to see since he is the star player, but this is coming at the expense of Obi Toppin, a potential spark plug off the bench. He’s shown flashes of what he can do, but without consistent playing time it’s hard to imagine Toppin hitting his true potential.

As the season goes on, it appears that Walker is going to lose playing time to Derrick Rose, something that stats would say is a good thing. 12 games into the season and Walker, the starter, is averaging 25.7 minutes per game while Rose is averaging 23.2, which is a near split.

There are a lot of different directions the team could go if they want to mix things up. In the season opener, a small-ball lineup with Randle and Toppin spurred a comeback against the Celtics, but it also led a lot to be desired defensively.

As it stands, the Knicks have a young bench all eager to prove themselves in some way, so perhaps getting more minutes with the veterans would be good for everybody.

What Can the Knicks Do?

julius randle derrick rose mvp new york knicks


A change the Knicks could make, but are unlikely to, is starting Rose over Walker. Rose has settled into the 6th man role over the past several seasons with the Timberwolves, Pistons and now the Knicks. That doesn’t mean he can’t start, but it’s that he’s comfortable in his role, and he does it very well.

Fournier likely commands too much money to be coming off the bench, so the Knicks are in a tough spot with what to do with the lineup.

It’s on coach Thibodeau to figure out what works, and it might force Walker to the bench. It’s a bit early to tell what the decision will be, so just stay tuned.

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