On Monday night, Elfrid Payton made an incredible discovery: efficiency.

The man who loves to take a layup over two big men, brick it, and chase his own rebound finally had a good game of the first time in his Knicks career. On Monday, he torched the Lakers for 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field and led the team in plus/minus at 27.

On Sunday, he scored 11 points on 5-for-7 from the field But too many Payton apologists are still lurking on the timeline. I’ve said it multiple times and I’ll say it again: THREE BEARABLE GAMES DOES NOT MAKE UP FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS OF MEDIOCRE PLAY.

The 20 points is nice, don’t get me wrong. But the starting point guard having two assists is unacceptable. In the game against the Raptors, he made some pretty good passes and still finished with three assists. 

In the comeback win over the Grizzlies, Payton was subbed out with 4:28 left in the third quarter with the Knicks losing and did not return. In that time, the Knicks outscored the Grizzlies, 64-48. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau continues to put him out in the starting lineup even though he is not starting point guard caliber. 

I saw a report from an SNY reporter saying the reason Payton is starting because “he tries hard.”

That’s great; it isn’t good enough.

Thibodeau should start Derrick Rose, who actually knows how to distribute the ball, moves, and cuts when he doesn’t have the ball and makes good shot decisions. I understand Rose cannot play more than 25 minutes due to his injury history, but the Knicks have other guards who can run the point, including Alec Burks who has shown he can manage the position. 

Additionally, this offense is built to set up corner threes. The best corner three-point shooter on the Knicks this season? Guard Frank Ntilikina at 78%.  Also worth mentioning Kevin Knox is second in corner threes on the Knicks at 54%. Payton is eighth on the team and fifth amongst guards on the team in corner three percentage at 30%.

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RJ Barrett continues to play well. A small sample size, but since April 1, Barrett is shooting 51% from the field, 56% from behind the arc, and 79% from the free-throw line. Since January 1, he’s shooting 46% from the field and 41% from behind the arc. 

Remember when Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards, who publicly admitted he does not watch basketball, said “we want RJ Barrett to take the (final) shot?” Barrett is 5-for-10 in 4th quarter/Overtime game-tying or go-ahead shots. 

Your casual is showing, Ant Edwards.

Time to put some respect on RJ Barrett’s name. His shooting has improved mightily over the course of the season and it has been beautiful and hysterical to watch all the haters silenced.

In summary, less Payton on the court and more Barrett taking shots, please.

Featured Image: Elsa/Getty Images
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