Leave it to the New York Knicks that the position they have the most depth at is probably also their weakest. The point guard position has been a problem for the Knicks all season. The problem started before the health woes of Raymond Felton. The Knicks simply don't have the starting point guard they need to run the offense and look for their points only after getting others involved. However, the Chicago Bulls' Mike James believes that Toure Murry could very well be the answer the Knicks are looking for.
The New York Knicks have a lot of depth at the point guard position. Raymond Felton is the starter. He's a solid basketball player but doesn't record enough assists, tends to look for his offense too much, is a poor defender and simply profiles as more of a backup point guard than a starter on the NBA level.
They also have Pablo Prigioni. He's a veteran who plays as a pass-first point guard and is an absolute nuisance on the defensive end. It's no coincidence that the Knicks play a better all-around game when Prigioni is on the court. However, he's old is such a pass-first player that he is far too reluctant to shoot the ball even when he finds himself wide open. That's particularly frustrating considering how good of a three-point shooter Prigioni is. The simple fact is, at his age he's simply not the future for the Knicks and he's actually too passive to rely on in today's NBA.
That brings us to Beno Udrih. Udrih is an underrated player but he's shown this season why he has been a career backup. The fact is, not everyone is meant to be a starter in the NBA. There's nothing wrong with being a solid backup. The biggest problem is, the lefty Udrih basically profiles as the same level player as Felton and Prigioni. They all do it different ways but the Knicks would probably be better off having them as backups instead of shuffling them in and out of the starting lineup.
That leaves two young point guards. Lets discuss Chris Smith first because this will be fast. He's not an NBA level player. The fact he made the Knicks final roster is an absolute joke and travesty. It's a clear case of the Knicks agreeing to keep Chris if J.R. Smith re-signed with the team this past off-season. Quite frankly, he's probably not even a D-League level player yet he's costing James Dolan about $2 million this season. Clearly that was a great decision.
The Knicks fifth and final point guard is Toure Murry. Murry is a converted shooting guard who made a name for himself in the D-League, earned a spot on the Knicks' summer league team, impressed enough for a training camp invite and ultimately earned a spot on the Knicks final roster.
Murry is fast, a slasher, a good scorer, a very good defender and a fancy passer. What's more is he's shown himself to be open to coaching, that he's humble and has already won the Knicks fan base over as a promising young player.
Moke Hamilton of The Knicks Blog reports James believes in Murry's future.
“How do you know what you have if you don’t use it?” James asked rhetorically before Wednesday night’s tip-off.
“Tour’e is a young talent and he’s probably going to be a really good player in this league someday. If New York was to give him the opportunity, I believe that he would earn more minutes but it’s hard to earn more minutes when you don’t really get a chance,” James said.
“With how the game has changed, with speed and quickness and being an uptempo game, he should be a rotation guard,” James said. “He can play as well as any point guard in the NBA and he can probably defend any point as good in the NBA.”
James isn't asking much of Mike Woodson and his staff. He isn't saying Murry should immediately be thrust into the starting spot. He's simply asking for Murry to find himself in the rotation. That would likely mean putting one of the veteran backups, most likely Udrih, on the bench. However, that could be a move that pays off in the long run.
It should be noted that James isn't just some veteran talking about a young player from afar. He's a man who considers Murry his protege. He's invested in Murry. That makes him bias but it also lets you know that he actually has knowledge about this subject and isn't just some veteran throwing out his uneducated opinion.
Back in 2005, James was traded to the Houston Rockets and fell in love with the city. He makes his home there and eventually met an impressive prospect named Tour’e some years ago.
“He’s from Houston and I really took an interest and a liking to him,” James told SNY.tv. “I just really saw something in the future for him and just really wanted to help him, so I just made sure that I tried to mentally prepare him for this season, and also physically. In the process, I beat on him everyday,” he said with a laugh.
“I really think he has a bright future ahead of him but I think that he would really be a great energy for New York right now,” he said. “Not just in garbage minutes, but when it counts. Things aren’t working for the Knicks right now, so maybe if there’s a change, you never know what could happen. You never know, maybe that change can come from him.”
This is the best point James makes. You just never know when you'll catch lightning in a bottle. Remember Jeremy Lin? Now, no one is saying Murry would cause the Knicks to turn their season around with some ridiculous winning streak.
However, Murry has skills. If the Knicks didn't think so they wouldn't have put so much time and shown so much interest in him in the first place. They claim they view him as a part of their future. If that's truly the case, he should become a bigger part of their present.
What do the Knicks have to lose? Is their point guard play at such a high level that Murry would get in the way? If anything, Murry would likely increase their defensive ability at a bare minimum. It's possible a young player like him could also increase their turnover rate.
However, his upside simply outweighs any negative Murry could bring to the rotation. Especially because he's just be added to the rotation and not thrust in as the starter right away. That's something that's owed to the team and the fan base, particularly if the team agree's with James' projections for Murry's future.
“He reminds me a little of George Hill,” James said. “He’s composed, he has athleticism, but he can also defend. I think that’s one of his great attributes, his length, especially at the point guard position, being 6’5″ and being so athletic. He can play off the ball, also. I think, of course, there’s always growing pains and point guard is the hardest position in the game, but the more reps. he gets, the more time he gets, the more comfortable he’ll get with the ball in his hands.”
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