PHILADELPHIA – The Knicks’ tank won’t be officially on until rookie point guard Miles McBride gets some real action at point guard – and not with the Westchester Knicks.
It’s puzzling that coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t turned to McBride yet after starting point guard Kemba Walker handed in his resignation for the season at the All-Star break and Derrick Rose suffered another surgical setback.
McBride, their second-round pick out of West Virginia, is a defense-first point guard who has playmaking skills.
His 3-point shot is streaky but he’s been lighting it up in the G League where he played Tuesday and notched 29 points, seven assists and made 5 of 7 3-pointers. It was his ninth G League game and all contained big numbers.
He was shuttled to Philly in time for Wednesday’s rematch vs. the Sixers but it’s unclear if he’d get off the pine unless it is garbage time.
“It’s definitely been challenging,” McBride said of his inactivity. “Obviously growing up, never had to deal with sitting a lot. But it’s the NBA. It should be challenging. The task they’re giving me, being able to play in the G League and being able to come back to the team, it’s been fun. So just trying to enjoy every day and taking the challenge head on.”
Thibodeau’s idea of a point guard is now veteran swingman Alec Burks, who is the starter, and Immanuel Quickley as backup even though he’s best off the ball. Ball movement has been lacking and the Knicks are on a five-game losing streak with their season on life support.
Asked if he’s getting feedback from the coaches on why he hasn’t gotten much of a chance, McBride said, “The feedback is, ‘you’re young, you’re a rookie, the opportunities you get, take them.’ And some things happen along with it.”
McBride had one shining moment in Houston on Dec. 16 when he started the second half for the fallen Rose. He finished the night with 15 points, nine assists and four steals.
The next day he tested positive for COVID-19 and he has barely been heard from since. He made a start when he got back from his absence in Toronto on Jan. 2 but lost Fred VanVleet on a couple of plays, got benched and didn’t start the second half. Thibodeau apparently has never forgiven him.
“I’m not sure, you’re going to have to ask coach,” McBride said Wednesday when asked if he heard from the coaches about that game.
Who knows what could’ve happened had COVID not interrupted his season after his NBA breakout.
“Yeah, I think it was also guys were coming back at the same time and coach just trusting the veterans,” McBride said. “So no problem with it. I’m going to take everyday and try to learn from it.”