If Kevin Knox wants to start for the New York Knicks, he’ll have to earn it. And he hasn’t doesn’t that yet, according to head coach David Fizdale.
From ESPN.com’s Ian Begley:
After studying film and going through preseason statistics, Fizdale decided that Ntilikina had earned a spot in the starting lineup. He will start alongside Tim Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter, Lance Thomas and Trey Burke.
“I think the most important thing I was trying to get out of it was culturally you’ve got to earn it,” Fizdale said. “I don’t think Kevin got to the point where he earned it more than Frank. But there were some good things for Kevin (in the preseason), and I was really happy with him having to go through highs and lows early on.
“He had the two double-doubles early and then he hit a wall. That’s just a learning opportunity for him. I don’t want to reward that yet. I do think Frank, consistently throughout the preseason, no matter where I put him, he got the job done. So for our culture that’s more important.”
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach from Fizdale. Frank Ntilikina is a big part of the Knicks’ future himself. Plus, people ascribe too much value to starting in the NBA. Total minutes matters more, and Fizdale has already said he envisions a rotation in which no one averages 30 minutes per game.
Coming off the bench could also help Knox get more offensive reps under his belt. He’d be jockeying for shots with Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Enes Kanter in the first unit. Coexisting with Mario Hezonja in the second unit should be easier.
Long term, though, the Knicks will want this to change. And speaking candidly, they should probably get to a point where they bench THJ, rather than Ntilikina, to make room for Knox.