Alec Burks at Point Guard: Why the Knicks are Starting Him

Yesterday I was scrolling through Twitter, minding my own business, when I saw this:

At first, I thought to myself, “interesting”… Then I thought to myself “I am not sure if it’s a good long term move” due to My New York Knicks being short on the wing spots (meaning the Shooting Guard & Small Forward spots) outside of RJ Barrett & Evan Fournier.

Then I thought to myself… “Wait, this could actually work”

Here in this article I will explain why starting Burks at PG over Kemba Walker is the right move on offense and defense, as well as how it gives the Knicks more versatility overall.

1. Defense

Burks is a decent upgrade over Walker in this area. This is not a shot at Walker at all by the way. At 6’6, Burks offers more size at that position plus he understands the defense schemes that coach Tom Thibodeau wants to run for the Knicks than Walker can. This is due to Burks having more experience playing under Thibs, being that this is his second year under the Knicks head coach, while this is Kemba Walker’s first season under Thibs. Also due to his size, wingspan & lateral quickness Burks will be better at locking down Point Guard than Walker can. Walker is not only a small Point Guard at 6’0 but has a hard time going over screens, plus is still learning the defense schemes. This Walker will be prone to making defense mistakes due to him still learning the defense schemes & system.

2. Offense & Playmaking

So far this season, if you look at the numbers for the Knicks starting lineups vs their bench units, the numbers for their bench units are better accross the boards. Als, you’ll notice how lineups with Kemba Walker have a negative net rating, and lineups with Alec Burks have a positive net rating. 

Burks was a part of the Knicks bench units that have been good, while Kemba Walker has been a part of the Knicks starting unit that has been bad. Outside of the numbers and stats, Burks is a solid ball handler and can run the offense when he needs to. Plus, he’s a better shooter than Kemba Walker from long distance so far this season (45.1 for Burks vs. 41.3 for Walker). 

In addition, you can have Burks spot up and have the ball in the hands of Fournier, Barrett & Randle to run the offense while Burks spots up to space the floor. Also, I see Burks as the more reliable offensive player than Walker at this point of their respective careers, as Burks is a pretty skilled offensive player in his own right. Burks is historically less likely to get hurt, unlike Walkerc who has been hurt much of the last few seasons, and is limited in his scoring due to that.

3. Versatility

At 6’6, Alec Burks can Guard up to 3 positions (or maybe 4 positions depending on the team). With Him being of a similar height of the Knicks other 2 perimeter starter (RJ Barrett & Evan Fournier) they can switch on many of the opposing teams perimeter threats at both guard spots as well as the small forward spot as well. This gives the Knicks plenty of versatility to start off with on defense. Also on the offense end, Burks’ size and Playmaking skill set can help the Knicks offense flow much better, like it did the Knicks game at Atlanta on November 27. Plus, it will be tough for Opposing defenses to hide the weak defensive players on Burks, who can take advantage of that player with his size. If they’ll try to put a bigger wing player on Burks’ Fournier &/or Barrett can take advantage of whoever the weakest defender on the opposing team is.

And those are the many reasons playing Burks at Point Guard is a good move for the Knicks going forward.

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Born and Raised in the Greater NYC Area. Long time New York Knicks fan as well as a Huge NBA fan since 2006. You can follow him on twitter at @KyosotaComics.