While the Knicks’ rotation has been nothing short of rambunctious, New York should consider Miles McBride, their pesky guard from West Virginia, to crack the rotation.
It has been an interesting start to the season for the New York Knicks, who have won nine of their first 20 games to kick off the year. While there were a handful of questions about the rotations and who would see significant playing time over others, Tom Thibodeau has kept us guessing up until this point. Injuries and poor play have restricted the fans from seeing what a consistent rotation would look like for New York. In 11 of the 20 games the Knicks have played so far, Thibodeau has rolled out a rotation that features 11 or more players, showing that the team is still adjusting to injuries as well as finding the most efficient lineups to put out on the floor.
With many players needing a couple of games to get themselves right due to injury, it has opened the door for a few Knicks reserves to show the front office and coaching staff what they got. In particular, Miles “Deuce” McBride has been a difference-maker on the defensive end of the ball when plugged into the lineup. Despite spotty minutes, he has the second-best steal percentage on the team at 2.2, trailing behind Immanuel Quickley. This number would have put him near the top percentile amongst point guards if he played a sufficient amount of minutes this season.
In a limited sample size of 6.3 minutes per game, there’s no telling if this would hold up if Deuce were to see a minutes increase. From what we’ve seen in this recent stretch from McBride, his peskiness and determination alongside the second unit have helped the team go on runs to keep themselves in games.
Something that has stood out so far this season with Deuce is his ability to read plays better on the offensive end. While his shot doesn’t always fall, he is better at analyzing the defense and making great reads, leading to a score for the Knicks as a result. Take the home game against the Portland Trail Blazers, for example. After receiving the dribble handoff-type screen from Obi Toppin, McBride sees that Shaedon Sharpe has already jumped to the spot before he can. Using a ball fake, Deuce is able to not only draw Sharpe in closer to drive by him but also shift Nassir Little, who is anticipating that the ball will go back to Toppin. With the lane open, McBride is able to get an uncontested layup at the rim due to Isaiah Hartenstein’s ability to space the floor which forces Jusuf Nurkic, a reliable defender, to close the gap by leaving the paint. Take a look at his great read here:
cook ‘em Deuce!! pic.twitter.com/yRlrpZ1lFY
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) November 26, 2022
His range on the offensive end may be limited from a shooting perspective (40% from the field, 11% from three), but his ability to finish when given the opportunity has been solid, shooting 66.7% around the rim. Obviously, this number would go down if he were to see significant minutes out on the floor but McBride is certainly impressing and should be considered in the rotation as a plug-and-play option, given that he is also one of the better options to defend the perimeter in a league where guards have thrived for the last decade. The Knicks are getting healthier by the day but should that change, McBride will always be ready for his time to give it his all.
Miles McBride’s impact against the Oklahoma City Thunder was crucial to the Knicks’ win last Monday. During his time in the game, he may have not shot the ball well (1-6 from the field overall) but he did a little bit of everything, finishing with a box plus/minus of +3 and finished the game with three points, two assists, and two steals. On one play in the second quarter with McBride in the game, the Knicks turned the ball over. With the discombobulation that could have occurred, McBride was in help position in various different spots on the defensive possession, proving how valuable he is to the Knicks’ defensive rotations. He then read the pass and picked it off, and was able to finish at the rim. Take a look at the sequence here:
Great get back pic.twitter.com/GhjAsPxbxU
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) November 22, 2022
Some could argue that Deuce has not been the biggest difference-maker when on the floor, specifically due to his offensive limitations. I personally wouldn’t argue with that either. However, if you deep dive into his statistics, you’ll see how much of an impact he has made in his time on the floor. He is only scratching the surface of what he can really provide this season because of the minutes allotted at different positions.
He is traditionally a point guard, so for him to be not only undersized, but playing a position he’s not familiar with will significantly affect that number. According to Cleaning the Glass, 98% of his minutes are at the point guard position, and in those minutes, his efficiency differential is +14.4, helping the team score 117.4 points per 100 possessions and only allowing a stunning 103.3 points per 100 possessions to opponents. What the average basketball fan does not realize is that McBride’s advanced stats are negatively affected due to his minutes at shooting guard, compared to his minutes at the point guard position, where his advanced stats, as mentioned before, show that when playing the correct position, he can do damage on both sides of the floor.
McBride’s play inspires hope that he can fall into the rotation as an energy type of guy. He reminds me of the role that Jose Alvarado plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. Deuce is clearly nowhere close to being as good of a three-point shooter as Alvarado, but they both play with a chip on their shoulder and their relentlessness on the defensive end is unmatched. If McBride could crack just 15 minutes in the rotation against other bench units, similar to Alvarado, his defense would be put on full display, picking off other reserve guards and I can envision him thriving against other reserve guards in the league.
Where does McBride fit in?
The Knicks’ current logjam at the guard position has benefitted versatile players such as Quentin Grimes and Cam Reddish into favorable minutes. As a result, Evan Fournier has seen a substantial dip in minutes over the last 10 games as Tom Thibodeau has looked to favor the youth more this season. Should McBride see an increase in minutes? I’m leaning towards yes. His statistics on the surface may not tell the entire story, but his tenacious style of play alongside his advanced statistics has me convinced he’s deserving of some more playtime. A follow-up question to ask would be if he does get an uptick in minutes, who is suffering as a result?
The answer for me would be Derrick Rose. No hate for the former MVP, but for a Knicks squad that is trending toward the bottom of the league in defense, they need all the help they can get. Rose does not force as many turnovers as McBride does. Considering that the Knicks are trending upward on offense, bolstering their defense in any way they can be a sole focus for the team in any capacity they can, even if it means making Rose “situational”, McBride deserves a chance in the rotation. Given how inconsistent the lineups have been already, adding him won’t affect the chemistry amongst the team.
What’s up next
Deuce McBride should hopefully get another opportunity to build upon his worth as the Knicks (9-11) head on the road for one game to face the Detroit Pistons (5-17) at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday night. The Pistons are without several key players in this one, which paves the way for McBride to get more minutes and find a place in the rotation going forward.