Luckily for Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, it appears Rose has already revealed the starter for him.
Derrick Rose on Kemba Walker: He’s starting
Rose, who re-signed with the Knicks on a three-year deal, told reporters at media day that Walker will start at point guard and he will run the second unit.
“I played against him in high school in the Garden,” Rose said about Walker. “We lost to him. He’s always been a grimy, feisty guard, New York guard. Always been competitive, and he’s a dog. Having him on the team, like who wouldn’t want Kemba Walker on their team? You’d be a fool not to … He’s starting. I’m doing whatever it takes to like just change the game. I’m not worried about minutes or playing time or anything like that. I know Thibs is gonna handle that.”
Walker has started every game he’s played in since the 2015-16 season. Meanwhile, Rose began coming off the bench in 2017-18 and has established himself as one of the top reserves in the NBA.
Walker may start games for the Knicks, but don’t be surprised if the All-Star and Rose close games together.
Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker could play together
Thibodeau told reporters on September 25 that he can envision playing Walker and Rose together since both stars can play point guard and shooting guard.
“I feel like I probably can play the two of them together,” Thibodeau said. “I know I have to get them enough minutes. Derrick can play on the ball, off the ball. In a lot of ways, so can Kemba.”
In 43 games for the Boston Celtics in 2020-21, Walker averaged 19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. However, he underwent a stem cell procedure on his left knee, and it’s a strong indicator he is suffering from a type of arthritis that could significantly impact the rest of his career.
Fortunately for the Knicks, they have a former MVP they can turn to if Walker is hurt. Rose averaged 14.9 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 48.7% from the field with the Knicks last season following his trade from the Detroit Pistons. He also put up 19.4 points and 5.0 assists per game in the 2021 playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks.
Thibodeau could close games with Walker, Rose, RJ Barrett, Evan Fournier, and Julius Randle. The two-time Coach of the Year has several options at his disposal. After all, New York also has Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks coming off the bench.
The Knicks made the playoffs in 2020-21 for the first time since 2012-13. Although they lost in the first round, re-signing Rose and adding Walker and Fournier will make things easier for Randle, who won the Most Improved Player of the Year Award but struggled in the postseason.
Julius Randle should get easier looks at the basket
Randle was incredible for the Knicks in 2020-21. He averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. However, the lefty was awful in the playoffs, shooting only 29.8% from the field.
With Rose back and Walker and Fournier in the mix, Randle should get easier looks at the basket since teams can’t solely focus on him. Fournier and Walker can stretch the floor with their 3-point shooting, while Rose can break defenses down with his driving and finishing ability.
It will be fascinating to see how the Knicks perform in 2021-22 after having a breakout campaign last season. For the team to once again be good, Walker and Rose will have to stay healthy and be effective second and third options on offense behind Randle.