The New York Knicks‘ point guard deficiency was exposed once again during their blowout loss to the Jazz on Sunday. While Donovan Mitchell filled in for Mike Conley as Utah’s quarterback and responded with 36 points, eight boards and six dimes, the Knicks’ backcourt was predictably mediocre.
Alec Burks — who has been square-pegged into the role of starting point guard — scored 10 points on just 3-of-9 shooting with three assists and two turnovers. Meanwhile, his team was outscored by seven points when he was on the court.
Of course, none of this is earth-shattering news for the Knicks faithful. After the Kemba Walker experiment met its disappointing end and Derrick Rose hit the shelf, it became clear that the team was in for a rough ride.
It’s a situation New York will have to address this summer, be it via free agency or by cashing in on some of their assets through the trade market. If they go with the former option, a team insider sees one of the NBA‘s best backups as a possible target.
Berman: Grizz Backup Could Run the Show in NY
In a Monday piece on the Knicks’ woeful point guard situation, the New York Post’s Marc Berman broke down a number of possible playmaking solutions. He tossed out a number of options, from rising stars like Collin Sexton and Jalen Brunson to the team’s second-round pick in 2021, Rokas Jokubaitis, to a cadre of wily vets.
However, he also mentioned Ja Morant’s understudy with the Memphis Grizzlies, Tyus Jones, calling him a “younger, cheaper” alternative to the likes of Ricky Rubio, Patty Mills, Dennis Schroder and Patrick Beverley.
More than that, though, he’s a player who has shown himself to be super adept at the things the Knicks’ current lot has struggled with. Namely, running an offense, setting up their teammates, defending — you know, point-guarding!
“Unlike Burks, Jones, 25, is an organizer and good ball-handler,” Berman wrote. “[He] runs an offense efficiently by getting his mates in the right positions and is a stout defender. His analytics are solid and he has one of the league’s best assist-to-turnover ratios.”
Although Jones is the kind of player that Memphis probably wants to keep in the fold, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. And Berman believes he may have played himself out of the club’s price range.
“That he’s a backup seeking starter’s money will make Memphis fret on whether they can keep him,” he added. “Jones made $7.5 million this season.”
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Jones Does More With Less
While he isn’t experiencing the same kind of workload/usage that the league’s elite point guards are on a nightly basis, Jones is using the minutes and opportunities he does get as well or better than some of them.
The Knicks experienced it firsthand on March 11 when he scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and zero turnovers in just 20 minutes. Moreover, the Grizz were plus-22 when he was in the game (which they won by all of four points).
Per 36 minutes, the baller averages 14.4 points, 7.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals. And Berman wasn’t kidding about his assist-to-turnover ratio; his 6.75 dimes per miscue is the best mark in the Association among players appearing in 20-plus games this season.