Saturday, March 3, 2012

Too many guards in New York?

Jeremy Lin has been the NBA's biggest success story since.. I don't actually know. A long, long time. Lin has recieved an unprecidented amount of attention during his stint with New York for his play as the starting point guard and leading (yes, leading) the Knicks to be the most dangerous playoff team that won't have home court advantage in recent memory.

Lin started his rampage without the help of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire or Baron Davis. Since then, those three have returned and New York has added JR Smith, solidifying them as an offensive powerhouse. The returns and addition that we see in New York pose a question though; will the rotations change?

Baron Davis was always slated as the starting point guard, that is, until Lin went ape-shit on the league. Iman Shumpert was starting games, until Lin went ape-shit on the league. The addition of JR Smith has already seen a reduction in Landry Fields minutes, who played under 20 minutes against Cleveland even though he started at shooting guard. Here are some quotes from head coach Mike D'Antoni when he was asked if the rotation could change:

"It could... I'm trying to find the right combos. But it's got to be determined over time. It's not going to be over one game."
"Over a length of time, if they prove they need to be out there, they'll be out there."
"If we're serious about doing something important in the postseason, everyone has to buy into playing less minutes and playing harder and really stepping up."

Will Lin be one of the guys who sees less minutes, espeically as Baron Davis starts to get his legs back? Davis played well in their last game against Cleveland, recording 8 assists and no turnovers, but it's not like Lin hasn't been pulling his weight, having only one rough game in his starting career which came against the tough defense of Miami. With the playoffs sneaking up in this lockout-shortened season, the rotations of almost every team are sure to tighten up. The question is, with Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis all vying for minutes, who is going to join the list of guards who have already seen their minutes reduced or have fallen out of the rotation completely? Ultimately, D'Antoni will decide, so hold your breath New York fans, this could get interesting.

Our take - these five guys (Lin, Fields, Shumpert, Smith and Davis) all either play point guard or shooting guard. That means for these five, there are 96 minutes available, 48 for the point guard position and 48 for the shooting guard position. We like Lin and Fields as the starters with Smith coming off the bench as the sixth man. It's clear that at times, New York will need to play a three guards at once to get these guys minutes, but that still won't be enough to find time for everyone. We think it will be important for New York to have some veteran experience at the point (which will come from Davis) which means Shumpert or Fields will have to see their minutes go down. With their season averages basically identical, this comes down to what New York needs more. Carmelo, Amare, Smith and Lin can all score, so we're giving the edge to the guy who we feel is the smarter, likely-to-do-more-with-less type player - Fields.

Let us know who you think will start seeing their minutes decrease as playoff time approaches, or how D'Antoni should handle playing all five of these guys relevant minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Minutes Breakdown:

    Lin and Davis should split minutes until one distinguishes himself as better from the other.

    Smith and Shumpert should share minutes based on the score, whether more offense or defense is needed, respectively.

    Fields should start, but seldom play in the second half, or late in games.

    Minutes Breakdown:

    Lin: 24 (1st n 3rd quarter)
    Davis: 24 (2nd n 4th quarter)

    Fields: 15 (mostly 1st half)
    Shumpert: 12-20 (play when ahead, mostly)
    Smith: 12-20 (play when behind, mostly)