How does a 34-year-old who only played 34 NBA games the last two seasons reinvigorate a Knicks starting lineup?
What if I told you Jarrett Jack has been the Knicks’ second most valuable player this season?
Before his current stint with New York, Jarrett Jack suffered a torn meniscus, one in a string of many knee injuries that have plagued him in recent years. Having only played two games with the New Orleans Pelicans, who acquired him on a ten-day contract mid-season, Jack missed the rest of the year recovering from the ailment.
When the Knicks signed Jack to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal this summer, his primary role was expected to be mentoring the newly-drafted Frank Ntilikina, as well as provide some extra depth for New York at the 1 spot… if he made the cut. Now a few weeks into the season, the 33-year-old veteran guard has given that and more.
Jack got his first start of the season against the Brooklyn Nets, racking up a solid stat-line of eight points, seven rebounds, and five assists. He was incredibly effective in New York’s first win of the season, leading the young team on both ends of the floor. What followed were multiple performances that spurred the Knicks go on a nice three-game win streak and proved Jack to be the best point guard on the roster as well as the perfect mentor for the newly minted backup Ntilikina.
In starts, Jack is averaging 5.3 points, 8.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game, but what the numbers don’t show is how he’s made himself one of the most efficient players on the team by directing the defense and pushing the tempo on offense. His understanding for the game allows him to see things his teammates with less experience can’t see, and New York’s on court success is visible from the stands to your couch. Jack plays the role of vocal leader on the court, calling out plays and directing his sometimes-inept teammates on defense (Kanter, Hardaway Jr.). The veteran presence is the most important thing he brings to the team, as developing the team’s young talent surely is the most valuable thing for the Knicks in the long-run. Mentoring Frank is also something Jack seems to focus on on the court, frequently talking to him in between plays, sharing knowledge only a 12-year vet possesses.
Where Jarrett Jack excels on the court is on the defensive end. He takes charge on D, directing players to their spots, coming to help, reading passing lanes, and staying aggressive on his man:
As shown in our recent film study on Jack, he constantly dictates the Knicks defense. By staying vocal and pointing his teammates to the right spots, Jarrett keeps the New York defense on its toes and ready to react to whatever the opposition throws at it. In the four games since Jack got his first start, the Knicks jumped from the 20th to 12th spot in defensive rating, a truly tangible difference, which demonstrated the turnaround for New York’s D when Jack got a minutes increase.
On offense, Jack also plays a valuable role. It sounds crazy to say, but he’s been the best distributor the Knicks have had since Jason Kidd (lol).
Beautiful pick-and-pop with Jack and KP pic.twitter.com/zhY2sqwFia
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 30, 2017
Jack seems to have a clear understanding of New York’s playbook, and that, combined with his veteran court vision, allows him to always find the open man on a play. Aside from doing well in the halfcourt set, Jack shines in the open floor, pushing the tempo and quickly moving the ball up-court.
START FOREVER JARRETT JACK pic.twitter.com/Da9UZ4eKdV
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 29, 2017
It seems as though Jack’s non-guaranteed offer is what has provided him with the motivation he needed to out-perform expectations this year, and if he keep up the solid play and be the veteran presence New York’s young guards need right now, it’ll certainly be worth looking at bringing him back at the end of the season.