Emmanuel Mudiay, one of the Knicks many reclamation projects, suited up Monday for the first time this season after recovering from an ankle sprain.
He returned to a cloudy situation regarding his future and position, with David Fizdale recently promoting Frank Ntilikina to starting point guard – including for Monday’s game against the Nets.
Even though Mudiay hadn’t played in over two weeks, Fizdale was keen on giving the 22-year-old some game action.
“I don’t know how soon I’m gonna do it, but at some point I’m gonna want to take a look at him, and see how he looks,” the coach said. “He really helps our pace. I think he’s our best at getting guys the ball where they need it. It’s just a matter of finding the right time to do it.”
Mudiay has struggled intensely since he was acquired by the Knicks in a February trade. In his 22 games as a Knick last season, he shot just 37 percent from the field and 19.6 percent from beyond the arc. The Knicks dealt Doug McDermott and a second round pick for Mudiay, believing they could jar something loose after he failed to live up to being Denver’s seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft.
But his struggles continued into this year’s preseason, and Mudiay sprained his ankle in the practice ahead of the season opener. The Knicks have a logjam at point guard with Ntilikina, Trey Burke and Ron Baker all seeing time.
But Fizdale believes Mudiay, despite his overall inefficiency, is the best passer of the bunch.
“He led us in preseason in assists. A little over four per game,” Fizdale said. “At practice it stands out that he’s very good at getting guys open looks and finding people at the right moment. And so, that’s for sure it’s a good skill for him.”
ENES STILL KANT START
Despite Enes Kanter’s gaudy numbers against the Nets, Fizdale kept him out of the lineup Monday and stuck with the young group of Ntilikina (PG), Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG), Damyean Dotson (SF), Noah Vonleh (PF) and Mitchell Robinson (C).
“It’s not about (coaching to win individual games) right now. It’s about seeing if we can build some consistency with these groups,” Fizdale said. “I don’t want to be jumping game to game just trying to chase wins. I want to find consistency in combinations right now. And as I hunt for that, that takes a few games here and there to see a body of work that will tell you something. So I don’t want to jump around game to game moving the lineup just to try to match up with a team. As we get further into the season maybe we will, but right now I want to see if I can build some chemistry and see what clicks with the team.”