Keith Schlosser, Lead WriterWith first-time head coach Derek Fisher set to make the transition from the hardwood to the sidelines quicker than most, it’ll be interesting to see how his rotations shape up as the season begins.
But as the five-time NBA champion looks for the Knicks to utilize the triangle offense, the two point-guard lineups that have previously proven to be successful for New York recently appear to be a thing of the past.
Earlier in the offseason, the Knicks jettisoned Raymond Felton to Dallas and instead upgraded the point guard position by acquiring Jose Calderon. An excellent floor general with an uncanny ability to spread the floor with his long-range shooting prowess, the latter looks like a viable option to help lead the team’s offense. Calderon will certainly also receive help manning the position from Pablo Prigioni, a savvy veteran who garners respect from his teammates and knows how to control the tempo of an offense quite well.
With these two veteran leaders set to receive the bulk of playing time moving forward, one has to wonder if there’ll be enough minutes to go around for Shane Larkin.
Considered merely a throw-in included in the trade with the Mavericks that otherwise saw the Knicks acquire Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, and two draft picks, Larkin should be looked at as more than just an afterthought.
As he aimed to fight his back from a broken ankle during his rookie year with Dallas, it took Larkin a while to find his groove. Having played sparingly in just 48 contests last season, one could argue he’s still trying to find it. But after garnering high praise from NBA D-League coaches while on assignment from the Mavericks, Larkin picked up right where he left off last season as he impressed the Knicks during Summer League.
As starting point guard for New York in Las Vegas, Larkin manned the offense like a true pro. He found teammates in the right spots on the court, controlled the tempo, and helped execute Coach Fisher’s desired plays rather well. The University of Miami product isn’t the most flashy floor general, but he has solid court-vision and seemingly even better instincts.
Having built a strong rapport with the likes of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cleanthony Early, there’s no doubt such players could play nicely off of Larkin in the team’s second unit.
In college, Larkin was expected to score more as the team’s number option, and thus, his playmaking ability has ever since been questioned. Having said that, he’s shown plenty of potential to suggest he can hold his own with the Knicks.
It will likely benefit Larkin more to learn under the likes of Calderon and Prigioni, all the while receiving a chance to fight for rotation minutes, rather than be pushed to the end of the bench or play the bulk of his minutes in the minor league instead. Whether he gets that chance ultimately remains to be seen.