The New York Knicks have struck out on just about every point guard they have tried over the last few years. Now, with a new head coach at the helm, they’re back at it again. When the 2018-19 season began, it was Trey Burke leading the charge. Over the last two games, Burke has not seen any minutes while David Fizdale has gone with Emmanuel Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina. It may be time to scrap his rotation and make a trade for Markelle Fultz of the Philadelphia 76ers.
While the Knicks’ struggles can be traced back to the absence of Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks must also think long-term here. What exactly will Porzingis be coming back to if he does make it on the court this season? Porzingis is an All-Star player but he’s not a perimeter player who can create for himself for 30+ minutes in games.
What the New York Knicks are missing is a player who can facilitate and dominate as a scorer in spurts at the same time from the lead guard position.
Ntilikina, Mudiay, and Burke have all proved they are not capable of doing both, which brings me to the Fultz option. While he has struggled with the Philadelphia 76ers since being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, he’s just not a fit with the team. But the potential is still there, and the New York Knicks must recognize that.
Fultz needs the ball in his hands to be productive and with Ben Simmons as the lead guard, that’s not going to happen. Philly head coach Brett Brown is trying to turn Fultz into an off-the-ball player which is hurting his game, reputation, and ego. Last season and during the offseason, Fultz took heavy criticism for his shooting form.
How does a player go from shooting .476 percent in college to .415 in the NBA and watch his three-point shooting drop from .413 percent to .286 in the NBA? It’s mind-boggling, but there is an explanation, given his injury issues last season and now he just can’t return to his form from at the University of Washington. He needs a change of scenery and the New York Knicks could be the perfect fit.
Think about what the Knicks can offer Fultz. They already have a volume scorer in Tim Hardaway Jr. Pairing Markelle Fultz with Hardaway in the same backcourt could easily boost the Knicks’ brand. Enes Kanter is a dominant force in the paint, too, and if Fizdale ever decided to play him more than 25 minutes per game, the Knicks would be set. Oh, and how can we forget the young guns the Knicks have stashed away like Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, and Kevin Knox.
While each of these players offers promise, there’s no real need for celebration if they can’t find a player to get them the ball. On the season, the Knicks are ranked just 22nd in scoring and are dead last in assists per game, according to NBA.com. On the Fultz side of the coin, he’s averaging just 3.4 assists this season but he’s getting only 24.1 minutes of action and that’s at the shooting guard spot.
With Jimmy Butler arriving in Philadelphia, Fultz heads back to the bench and his minutes and production will take a drastic hit. While the 76ers have said numerous times Markelle Fultz is not for sale, they may need to think hard about holding a player like him hostage. He’s young and there will come a time when he wants more. The Knicks can offer this young player all the time at the lead position he wants.
What else do they have to lose? Ntilikina averages 7.1 points and 3.4 assists in 25.7 minutes while shooting .345 percent from the floor. Mudiay is averaging 7.4 points and 2.4 assists and making just .444 percent of his shots. Then you have the former starter Burke. Once a promising addition to the roster, Burke has struggled. On the year, he’s averaging 9.6 points and 3.5 assists while hitting .403 percent of his shots.
The season is not over for the New York Knicks, just yet. Bringing in a player like Markelle Fultz could change the dynamic of the team this season and for the future.