It’s been a rough few weeks for the New York Knicks, with head coach Tom Thibodeau shaking up the headline rotation after a string of poor performances.
Before his thrilling 112-110 road loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Thibodeau revealed that he’s not only eliminating Kemba Walker from the starting lineup, but also from the rotation “as of now.” The immediate results have paid off.
Walker has appeared in 18 games this season, but has been a shadow of himself. At 24.5 minutes per night, he is averaging a career low of 11.7 points, 3.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds per contest in .429 / .413 / .800 shooting divisions.
Simply put, the Knicks’ starting group of Kemba Walker, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson just haven’t worked the early part of the season. According to NBA.comThe group has accumulated 287 minutes together, leading in the league, but as it stands, they have posted an offensive index of 103.3 and a defensive index of 118.9, which has surpassed them by 15.6 points per 100 possessions.
While Evan Fournier has maintained his spot in the headlines, Alec Burks started his second straight game in place of Walker on Tuesday, with the four-time All-Star trailing Derrick Rose (34 minutes) and Emmanuel Quickley (37 minutes). who played great minutes behind and with Burks.
Fournier is averaging 16.5 points in the two games since Walker benched and approached the Knicks, burying a 3 with 17.7 seconds left to tie things 110-110. A pair of James Johnson’s free throws froze the Nets’ victory, before Fournier’s bell rang for victory.
Burks started in the Knicks’ 99-90 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night, recording 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists, then followed with another strong outing in Brooklyn.
He led the team in scoring with 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals in 39 minutes, pushing the Nets all the way.
Before the Hawks game, the Knicks were 5-8 in November. Now they sit at 11-10 on the season, good for seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Burks, Rose and Quickley impressed down the stretch against the Nets in a three-guard lineup and led their offense, combining for 13 of the team’s 26 fourth-quarter points.
Rose finished with a game-high 16 points, nine assists and five rebounds, while Quickley added 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Burks provides an interesting play for the Knicks with his efficient shooting ability and ground spacing, which helps create space in the paint to maximize the rest of the team, especially All-Star forward Julius Randle.
At month of November, Burks is shooting 47 percent from the 3-point range and 43.9 percent from the field, scoring double-digit points in six of his last seven games.
Walker’s playmaking is a major foul for the Knicks, but without him in the lineup, Rose and Randle have taken on more playmaking duties. Randle was excellent tonight, easing the offense from the elbow, finding cutters and kicking to the 3-point line.
He finished with eight assists, as well as some big buckets down the stretch.
It’s unclear what the plan is for Walker at this stage, with his name popping up in trade rumors in recent days, but if Burks, Rose and Quickley continue to shoot for the Knicks, Thibodeau will certainly have something to think about.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.