Normally when a team plays its young and unproven players major minutes towards the end of the season, the team is essentially waiving the white flag. The team’s GM begins attending college games to scout prospective draft picks, and then, for a well-run franchise, the organization begins evaluating the roster to see who stays, who goes, and how to build a winner again.
Things don’t happen like that for these Knicks. It’s time to play the young guys more often. The Knicks are 21-36, and the old guys weren’t very good, so there’s no guarantee things will get worse. GM Steve Mills won’t be scouting players for this year’s draft because that pick is in Denver. Also, the Knicks won’t be evaluating the roster because even if they came to the incredibly obvious conclusion that it’s not a good one, there isn’t too much that can be done.
So who are the young guys who should see more minutes? Tim Hardaway Jr., Jeremy Tyler, and Toure’ Murry (this would have been just as true even if Felton didn’t get arrested).
Tim Hardaway Jr. is the latest Knicks rookie fans can’t stop talking about. After taking the torch from Mike Woodson’s nemesis Iman Shumpert, Hardaway Jr. has shown a lot of potential offensively. Though his PER (13.3) is below that of an average NBA player (15.0) and he’s a below average shooter in six of the elven zones on the floor, Hardaway Jr. does a lot of good things.
For starters, he already understands that taking midrange jumpers is a bad idea. According to basketball-reference.com, Timmy has only taken 16 shots from 10-16 feet all year. For a team that has a huge problem with those types of shots, only taking 16 is a great sign. Hardaway Jr. also shoots over 42% from three from the top of the arc and the right corner as well as 38.6% (first among rookies with at least 50 threes) overall from downtown.
Hardaway Jr. is third in both true shooting % and effective shooting % among rookies with at least 20 games played and 10 minutes per game. He also is 4th in EFG% and 5th in TS% on the Knicks.
Hardaway has some flaws like the aforementioned sub-par PER and his net PER of -4.7 at the shooting guard, his primary position but he is still learning. Timmy’s biggest roadblock in improving may be that he is on the Knicks (just think about how beloved Shumpert was two years ago and how much potential he had, now look at him).
Jeremy Tyler almost didn’t play for the Knicks. The team cut him in favor of Chris Smith for literally no logical reason, and Tyler sat there for weeks and could have been scooped up by anybody. Luckily for the Knicks (and probably not for him), the team added him late in 2013 and he has played pretty well.
He only puts up 4.3 ppg and 3 rpg but that’s in 10 mpg. His per 36 numbers are much more promising. He averages 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds on 56.2% shooting. He is also 4th on the Knicks in TS% and 3rd in EFG% (take that, Timmy!!).
He is not really a great defender; the team gets worse by two points per 100 possessions defensively, but you’d hope that with an actual defensive minded coach next year (hopefully) that can change.
Overall Tyler might just be a bench player who shouldn’t be asked to do too much for a team but there are 25 games left in this disaster so let’s up his minutes some. Hey, if Andrea Bargnani can get major minutes on this team, anyone can.
Toure’ Murry only plays seven minutes a game this season when he plays, but Ray Felton’s legal troubles may cause a major bump in playing time, and why not? While he likely won’t start, possibly ending the Knicks two point guard lineup, it should be exciting to see what he can do with more time.
Murry averages 12.5 points and 5.1 assists per 36 minutes this year with 42% shooting. While that’s not great, he hasn’t really been given a chance to make a mark this season. There is also the fact that the Knicks have no young point guards on the team and it’s arguably the most important position on a team.
Murry hasn’t been great and, in what has become a recurring theme in this article, he is a bad defender, but my God is he better than Chris Smith and if the alternative is bringing that guy back, 100% of Knicks fans should root hard for more Murry.
The Knicks not only need to increase their young players playing time to get them reps but the Knicks also have this fantasy where they can sign Carmelo Anthony this off season and one or maybe even two more all-stars the year after.
Well if these young players pan out they likely can be signed on the cheap, which saves the Knicks cap space while allowing them to pitch a more certified squad to free agents.
There is a chance that all three or a couple of these kids could respond poorly to more time but when your season is over regardless you might as well see what they have. There is also the fact that if Anthony leaves, these guys may get more minutes by default.