David Fizdale reveals what he’s looking for Knicks’ starting point guard to do
New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale is unsure who will be his starting point guard on opening night.
Dennis Smith Jr. and Elfrid Payton are battling for the starting job.
Fizdale on PG battle: "The biggest thing is, is he guarding his position? Is he pushing the pace? Is he getting us organized. Those are the most important areas for me. But at the same time I feel like you still have to be a threat out there from that position."
— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) October 15, 2019
Dennis Smith Jr. shouldn't be seen as Knicks' presumptive starter.
“I don’t know who has the edge," Fizdale said. "We still got two games to go.”
Fizdale on Elfrid Payton: "The way he pushes the ball, the way he compete on the ball, those are the things I really like about him."
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) October 15, 2019
Smith is the better scorer, while Payton can run an offense more efficiently since he’s a more willing passer. Payton is also a superior defender.
In 21 games with the Knicks last season, Smith averaged 14.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting 41.3 percent overall and 28.9 percent from the 3-point line. Those are shooting splits Smith and the Knicks are hoping will improve this season.
Smith is very explosive. He can get to the rim at will and finish in heavy traffic. However, the Knicks guard can’t rely on his athleticism every time he needs to score. That’s why New York’s brain trust was happy Smith worked on his outside game this offseason.
Payton signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Knicks in July. He averaged 10.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 7.6 assists with the New Orleans Pelicans last season while shooting 43.4 percent from the field, 31.4 percent from beyond the arc and 74.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Regardless of who starts, it’s clear Payton is already pushing Smith. That will only make Smith a better player moving forward.