Krypto-Nate as a Starter

Tonight's game with the Cavaliers will mark Nate Robinson's second consecutive start at the point -- and if you're wondering how desperate Mike D'Antoni has become, there's your answer.

It's not that Robinson is a bad player. He's very good at what he does -- play with energy, create offense. On the right team, I'm confident he'd challenge for sixth man of the year honors. But he has no business running the Knicks' offense -- he makes far too many bad decisions with the ball.

The fact that he's being pressed into service is a major indictment of Chris Duhon's play and Donnie Walsh's management of the roster. Duhon has been god-awful since the new year -- he shot just over 32 percent from the floor in January. Duhon's performance also suffered in the second half of last year... which tells me that he's not well-suited to play 35 minutes per game for an entire season.

And that's where Donnie Walsh comes in. Duhon is the only natural point on the Knick roster. The only thing that makes Robinson a point guard is his size. The only other option on the team is Toney Douglas, who was a scorer/combo guard for Florida State last year and still has a lot to learn. It's clear the team recognized point guard as an area of need -- they tried to sign Jason Kidd, Andre Miller and Ramon Sessions, among others -- but the overarching desire to clear cap space for the class of 2010 trumped the short-term goal of competitiveness in 2009, leaving the team painfully thin in the backcourt.

(Let's not even discuss the draft. Sure, a Brandon Jennings or Ty Lawson or Darren Collison or Jrue Holiday would make a lot of sense for this team in retrospect... but the way D'Antoni has handled his rookies this year, I'm not at all sure that any of them would be contributing right now if they had been drafted by the orange-and-blue.)

I have two major concerns about the move. First off, moving Nate into the starting lineup means he's not going to be taking the floor against the opposition's second unit, and that's where he thrives. But secondly -- and more importantly -- asking Robinson to play the role of distributor... having him run pick-and-rolls with David Lee or look for Danilo Gallinari for the three... plays to the weakest aspect of his game. If the Knicks had a wing player who could initiate the offense - a Stephen Jackson or Grant Hill type -- Robinson as point guard might work. As things stand, this move could weaken the Knicks at the point and hurt their bench.

But then, what other option does D'Antoni have at this point? Duhon obviously isn't getting the job done. The only other player on the current roster that's shown any ability to run the offense is Larry Hughes... who spent a month pouting about playing time and then, when re-inserted into the lineup, promptly hurt himself. He's out tonight with a toe injury.

From a fantasy perspective, the move probably helps Robinson, if only because it means more -- and more consistent -- minutes. I don't see this as a "trade deadline showcase" move; Robinson's value is pretty well-established at this point. And besides, if the Knicks were into showcasing players in the hopes of generating trades, we probably would have seen Eddy Curry more than... er, have we seen big Ed this season?


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