There was plenty of head-scratching and questions when the New York Knicks acquired point guard Emmanuel Mudiay from the Denver Nuggets at the NBA trade deadline earlier in February.
After Ron Baker’s season-ending injury, the Knicks were still left with three point guards in Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke and veteran Jarrett Jack, who was inexplicably starting while the rookie Frenchman and 25-year-old Michigan product came off the bench.
It was the last thing two developing point guards needed. Ntilikina needed to find his footing in the NBA as a 19-year-old while Burke needed an opportunity to prove that he could develop into a viable point guard at the NBA level despite being held back in Utah and Washington after being taken ninth overall in 2013.
Adding a 21-year-old former lottery pick in Mudiay was only going to take minutes away from the two if Jack continued to start.
Fortunately for them, head coach Jeff Hornacek has made Mudiay the starter while Burke and Ntilikina get minutes while the 34-year-old Jack hasn’t played since Valentine’s Day.
All three have been on the floor together in some combination and have been surprisingly productive despite the numerous question marks surrounding them.
Here is how they have performed over their six games together:
Emmanuel Mudiay 2017-18 stats with Nuggets
17.9 minutes per game
Emmanuel Mudiay 2017-18 stats with Knicks
24.6 minutes per game
Frank Ntilikina 2017-18 stats pre-Mudiay
20.1 minutes per game
Frank Ntilikina 2017-18 stats post-Mudiay
24.1 minutes per game
Trey Burke 2017-18 stats pre-Mudiay
14.2 minutes per game
Trey Burke 2017-18 stats post-Mudiay
18.7 minutes per game
The most popular combination used by Hornacek and most successful so far has been Ntilikina with Burke over the past six games. The two have been on the floor together for a total of 69 minutes with an offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) of 121.4. Only one other pairing of Knicks have played at least 50 minutes together over the past six games and have a better rating, which is Burke and Lance Thomas (122.2). Their net rating of 18.5 is also the top among any point-guard combination over the last six games:
With Ntilikina and Burke on the floor together
121.4 offensive rating
102.9 defensive rating
18.5 net rating
With Ntilikina and Mudiay on the floor together
104.8 offensive rating
115.4 defensive rating
-10.7 net rating
With Burke and Mudiay on the floor together
117.5 offensive rating
116.8 defensive rating
0.7 net rating