Brandon Jennings is a better pairing for Kristaps Porzingis than Derrick Rose. When Rose drives to the rim he constantly misses an open Porzingis whereas Jennings consistently sets up Porzingis in scoring opportunities. Scoring point guards always have to dance on a difficult line between looking for their own shot and setting up teammates. The Knicks have a ton of scoring options and need a player more like Jennings to set up teammates than they need the scoring from that position.

When Rose entered the league he had an amazing penchant to score at the rim and find teammates. Before getting hurt in the 11-12 season, he averaged a career high 7.7 assists a game for the Chicago Bulls while scoring 21.8 a night. Since the injury he has never averaged more than 4.9 assists. His explosion hasn’t come back and neither has his passing skills.

This season, it has been all too common to watch Rose come off a pick-and-roll and not hit the open man or miss open players in transition. In most of these cases it has been Porzingis he misses. In the examples below, he comes off a pick-and-pop and instead of passing to Porzingis a 40.4% three-point shooter he took a contested 15-footer where he shoots 33.3%. Later in the same game in transition Rose missed a wide open a Porzingis coming down the middle without a defender in his way. According to the NBA.com/stats two-man lineup they are a -1.4 in plus/minus when they are on the floor together. Rose’s tunnel vision has led to the bad habit of him taking bad shots instead of making the right pass.

There is an inherent difference when Porzingis is on the court with Jennings, they have only shared the court about 13.4 minutes a game and are a -0.3 in plus/minus. Jennings despite coming off the bench leads the Knicks assists with 5.1 a night while averaging 21.5 minutes. In the plays below, he drove baseline and found Porzingis for a three, hit him in a pick-and-pop for another three, and found Porzingis for lob when the Portland Trail Blazers’ switched Damian Lillard in a pick-and-roll. Jennings is the perfect setup man for Porzingis.

The Knicks are in a battle for a playoff spot and at the same time need to develop Porzingis into a number one option. To do this they need a point guard who will get him the ball in positions to score. Rose’s contract is up at the end of this season, it is clear he is never going to be the same player he was when he won the MVP with the Bulls. The Knicks will have to decide to whether to resign him and for how much. They may be better off resigning Jennings who is also in contract year. He would be significantly cheaper for the Knicks and is a better partner to pair with Porzingis.

Notes:

  • Big O’Quinn – Kyle O’Quinn has came up big for the Knicks in their win Friday night at the Garden vs the Minnesota Timberwolves. He had 20 points and 13 rebounds, seven of those were offensive. O’Quinn kept so many plays a live by tapping the ball out and was great defensively on Karl Anthony Towns. The Knicks do not win that game without that effort. It will be interesting to see what the Knicks do when Noah comes back.
  • Hawks down – the Atlanta Hawks have been free falling after starting the season 10-5, have lost six straight including a 44-point loss to the Toronto Raptors. Despite this terrible run they are on, they are only 2.5 games out of the third seed in the East. They need to course correct very quickly though to get back in the hunt.
  • Another Injured Laker – Last night against Memphis the Lakers’ Jose Calderon injured his hamstring just adding another body to their injury woes, D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, and Larry Nance have been sitting out due to injuries. Despite their surprising start the Lakers will have to overcome these injuries to stay in the playoff race.

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