NBA

Why the Knicks Need to Utilize Alonzo Trier

New York Knicks' Allonzo Trier (R) dribbles the ball during the NBA London Game 2019 basketball game between Washington Wizards and New York Knicks at the O2 Arena in London on January 17, 2019.
Glyn Kirk, Getty Images

Every couple of years, the Knicks seem to find undrafted guards who come out of nowhere. In 2011-2012, there was the Linsanity craze. The year after, Langston Galloway had some huge games. In 2018-2019, Allonzo Trier was signed by the Knicks to a two-way contract. His outstanding play led to his contract being converted to a two-year NBA deal.

Trier was a standout college player at the University of Arizona. However, he was suspended twice for testing positive for PEDs during his sophomore and junior year, which led to him being undrafted. The Knicks scooped him up, and he proved everyone wrong.

Last year, Trier had a monster game against the Rockets. He showed off his full arsenal by scoring at all three levels in both isolation and the pick and roll. Trier also showed he has the clutch gene, hitting a dagger in the closing minute. When given the opportunity, Trier is elite.

This Season

Despite his outstanding play in the previous year, he has not been in the rotation at all under Coach Dave Fizdale or Coach Mike Miller. Of course, he would still need to prove himself this year, but he hasn’t gotten that chance since. Trier hasn’t topped 25 minutes the entire season and had multiple Coach’s Decision-DNP.

It didn’t help that the Knicks also signed and acquired multiple guards in Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr, Reggie Bullock, and Wayne Ellington. Additionally, the Knicks drafted Frank Nitlikina and RJ Barrett these past two years

Trier was pushed out of the rotation and hadn’t played much at all this season. Both coaches favored playing Ntilikina, Barrett, and Payton, which left Trier at the end of the bench. 

Questionable Knicks Roster

The team’s roster makeup is puzzling. The Knicks’ guards, Ntilikina, Barrett, Payton, and Smith Jr., are all poor shooters. Defenses gladly sag off and give help onto Portis and Randle in the post, their best scorers. The Knicks are last in the NBA in three-pointers made, 28th in three-pointers attempted and 27th in three-point percentage. 

The Knicks like getting the ball into the paint as they are 5th in points in the paint percentage. 

While it is possible to have an offense that doesn’t rely on threes, the team needs to move the ball well and force defenses to scramble, which can open up the paint. Unfortunately, the Knicks post scorers, Randle and Portis, aren’t great passers from the post, so teams can live with trying to get the ball out of their hands and force one of their guards to force something at the rim. 

How Trier Fits

Right now, Trier is their best shooter at the point guard positon. The other Knicks point guards are ineffective long-range shooters, hurting the spacing deeply. With Trier on the wing, teams wouldn’t be able to go under screens like they currently do.

He hits open looks when given the opportunity. Trier has a silky touch, a career 38% from three. The bottom line is that the Knicks need a guard who can score and force the defensive to respect them. 

He can be their starting two-guard or the sixth man coming off the bench in the long term. Trier has a solid frame at 6’5 and 200 lbs and shows solid effort on defense.

A backcourt of Barrett and Trier has good length defensively, and their offensive games complement each other. Barrett showed some potential as a playmaker coming off the pick and roll, but he isn’t the best shooter. Trier makes up for Barrett’s lack of scoring since he can knock down jumpers both off-the-dribble and coming off screens. 

Trier is a straight-up bucket-getter that the Knicks are overlooking. Hopefully, this is more adversity for him to overcome, just like when he went undrafted. 

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