Knicks: Why Austin Rivers should be the starting point guard

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 10: Austin Rivers #25 of the Houston Rockets dribbles the ball during the third quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 10, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Austin Rivers should immediately supplant Elfrid Payton in the starting lineup for the New York Knicks.

These first five games of the New York Knicks season have been a roller-coaster, likely a microcosm of what all 72 will look like. Solid efforts before fading late, followed by a night where everything comes together, followed by a sloppy but gritty win over a team on equal footing… and then the New Year’s Eve game. Played well. Just couldn’t make a shot.

There’s a lot to be optimistic about. Guys are competing on both ends. Team defense is much improved. Certain individuals — Randle, Knox, even Ntilikina in his limited minutes — look much better under Thibs & Co. than they ever did under Fizdale.

But offense remains an issue, and it will as long as Elfrid Payton starts.

Overall, Elf hasn’t been terrible. He, like the team, has been up-and-down. Take that Cavs game, for example: Payton turnovers and missed layups, Payton looking completely unplayable for three quarters, Payton cashing two more corner threes, Payton missing two more free throws, Payton completing a beautiful lob to Mitch, Payton finishing with 10 fourth quarter points and helping lead the Knicks to a W.

Even in the most recent loss to the Raptors, he was fine — 7-12 from the field, 14 points, 4 assists, only 2 turnovers. But the Knicks need more than “fine” in their lineup. They need more than counting stats.

They need Austin Rivers.

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