It’s game day, suckas! The P&T staff got together to discuss their optimal rotations for the 2017-18 Knickerbockers. This being a rebuilding year—not a Yankees-style rebuilding year—everybody has their own particular motives for choosing lineups: player development, tanking, even trying to win. Let’s get it on!
STARTERS: Enes Kanter, Kristaps Porzingis , Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, Ramon Sessions.
I want Kanter playing big minutes 'cuz I want him putting up big numbers 'cuz I want him gone by the trade deadline for a 1st-round pick or an intriguing young player. Same thing with Courtney Lee: let him show what he can do that other teams will then scoop up. If by March 1st the Knicks are in position to contend for a top-3 pick and they've parlayed any veterans/eight-figure contracts into pieces for the future, I'ma be happy. Porzingis plays four until later in the season, when hopefully he's physically still upright and able to switch up a position, to see what it's like playing him there regularly. Sessions starts because I want Frank Ntilikina to earn the job when he's shown he's ready for it. I don't subscribe to "throw him in there and let him fail till he learns." There's plenty of time for him to struggle and fail even after he's ready. He doesn't need 82 games of it. Help him fail better. By year's end, a starting five of KP, Lance Thomas, THJ, Frank Ntilikina and Ron Baker would be worth watching, at least as a blueprint for what could work next year.
RESERVES: Frank, Baker, Lance, Doug McDermott, Kyle O’Quinn, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Joakim Noah, Willy Hernangomez, Damyean Dotson, Michael Beasley
PG - Frank Ntilikina
SG - Damyean Dotson
“SF” - Tim Hardaway Jr.
PF - Kristaps Porzingis
C - Willy Hernangomez
I've decided I want two things out of this season: get this young core to understand each other inside and out, and lean into the fact that that will most likely not be pretty. This lineup accomplishes that.
For the one game that we got to see him this preseason, Ntilikina looked more ready to run the show than I thought. I was previously a little tepid on starting Frank, but at this point I like that option much more than the alternative of starting Sessions. Dotson is good, I think, and I want to try to figure out just how good. THJ is a must-start, obviously. I think he and Dotson should be able to figure out defensive assignments at the 2 and 3 on any given night. Porzingis. Duh. And I'd rather roll with Hernangomez than Kanter, and let the big Turk roll over bench units.
Kanter's my first guy off the bench as the de facto bucket-getter. He and McBuckets can provide a little bench scoring pop, I think. And both those guys are young and “on the timeline” or whatever. Lee, I kinda feel bad for. I'd play him honestly just to boost his trade value. But I'm sure he's also a good mentor. Sesh backs up Frank, not the other way around. The other three, spot minutes as needed. Play O’Quinn just enough to get his trade value up too.
These three, I just don't really see a real role for. You could maybe make a case for putting Kuz in the bench mix instead of Thomas, but I think Lance's shot will come around. Beasley… man, he's fun, but I feel like he needs somewhere that won't give him the green light as much as here. Noah, forget it. Let him become more or less a bench coach at this point.
Sign either Jameer Nelson or Wade Baldwin instead of this goober.
Accidentally forget that they're technically on the team:
Let’s start here:
PG - Sessions
SG - Hardaway
SF - Lee
PF - Porzingis
C - Hernangomez
I have no idea why people want to skin all these cats. But I’ll gladly let a pretty little kitty curl up in my lap for a moment if you’ll hand me a fresh blade. So look. There is no reason for a team from New York to be last in the league to embrace modern basketball. Yet, here we are. Now just figure out how and when to get your best contributors on the floor and let the team scrap and claw until they work something out. The players that fight for it will be universally embraced. The youngsters will have a longer rope and progress is the only goal for now. Success will come if the organization can remain calm. And to hell with this season- the destination is Doncic and the location is Luka. Everything else lacks civilization.
There is, of course, something to be said for sagely setting your guys up to succeed. Give everyone the best platform and let ‘em dive in. Historically this is the prime struggle for the Knickerbockers. For some reason the Knicks see a good thing and say: wouldn’t it be great if he did something else? Such is the case with Kristaps Porzingis. The kid is obviously a modern day center. He protects the rim and can shoot the three and he’s taller than practically everyone in the league.
Sessions should get the initial run at point guard as Ntilikina learns the ropes. It’s the same model that he succeeded under with Strasbourg. Bring him along steadily and then take the training wheels off. It seems like the only smart, protective model for his intro to the chew and spit machine of New York. Baker can get in where he fits in. The other guard is Tim Hardaway’s no matter what. Damyean Dotson deserves minutes and should not lose them to Sessions as Ntilikina overtakes the veteran. Baker should continue to get in where he fits in. With any luck Courtney Lee is traded for some nominal future asset. And the guard rotation can be pushed up and we can finally embrace Kristaps at center. It’s not perfect, but these guys (+ Hernangomez, +/- Thomas) are the future right now.
Let’s finish here:
PG - Ntilikina
SG - Dotson
SF - Hardaway
PF - Thomas
C - Porzingis
This is what I want to see—I'm tired of a expecting a normal lineup where guys can defend a bit and give offense a bit and things are balanced. That's too normal and God knows this team hasn't been normal since well before Jerry Lucas. The only lineup I will be anticipating will be a lineup I've dubbed "FUCK DEFENSE" - This is where we will have 5 guys on the floor who shoot near or above 40% from three and can all handle the ball and score like crazy. Yes I know Dotson and Frank should be great defenders, and hopefully that back court helps ease the pain of the front court's defense, but Dotson and Frank have a history of great outside shooting from their respective leagues.
C - KP / PF - DOUGIE / SF - THJ / SG - DOTSON / PG - FRANK
In all reality, Sessions will start and that's probably for the best, I agree with Miranda there, but Frank will be the starter by year's end for sure. KP starts at the 4 because of the log jam at Center, but certainly he's an offensive asset at the 5 and hopefully plays a good chunk there. I love Lee and THJ starting together at the 3 and 2 respectively, and I think I would actually go with Kanter as the starting C.
Willy can get some quality P-n-R reps in with Frank on a second unit that will hopefully see Dotson camping in the corner as those two attract attention. Noah hopefully gets buried on the bench, but I doubt it. I will forget that Jack was on the squad by Christmas. Baker will excite me for the bulk of his garbage time minutes, and Dougie will excite me until he has to play defense.
O'Quinn is traded by Christmas, Lee is traded by the Feb. deadline, and Kanter sticks around and picks up his option - leaving the fanbase divided on that move.
Starters: Sessions (for like 1 week), THJ, Lee, KP, Willy
Reserves: Frank (start him as soon as he's played a few games), Ron, Run-DMD, Dotson, Beasley, Kanter.
Once Frank gets his feet under him, he will start. It’s better for the future, and honestly, it’s better for the present. I was very tempted to add McBuckets to the starting lineup—he was good in the preseason!—but I’d like to showcase Lee for trades and also get Damyean Dotson some playing time. Playing Lee and Timmy together accomplishes both.