The argument behind Mike Miller not committing to play the youth extended minutes:
Mike Miller's coaching career started off great compared to what former Knicks coach David Fizdale was bringing to the table. In his first 12 games the interim coach brought the Knicks to a 6-6 record during that stretch and had fans on the internet going crazy. Crazy to the point where everyone was convinced that he would be our coach of the future. The Knicks even got as close as 5 games back of the 8th seed at one point. Now 22 games later, his record stands at 13-21. Which by in large is still pretty good when you factor in what he has to work with.
Lately the coach has taken some heat from the media and fans. Their argument is if the Knicks are not fighting for a playoff spot and you trade arguably your best player at the time (Marcus Morris), Why aren't the kids playing more? Although I mostly agree with this narrative, there is an argument to be made as to why he is doing the exact opposite of that.
Everyone has to remember the NBA is a hard game to navigate as a head coach. Heck, sometimes they really only get one shot in this league. Especially an interim who knows his days are numbered due to newly hired Steve Stoute basically planning his funeral on First Take a couple of weeks ago. Aside from that, we also have to be realistic, the Knicks will have a new head coach next season and Mike Miller already knew that. A new regime usually will bring in his own coach.
Mike Miller is coaching for his own sake at the moment, he wants to do everything and anything it takes to win games. So not playing the youth makes sense when you look at it through his perspective. Especially when the youth is not improving.
Lets take Kevin Knox for example, all of us can agree that he has taken a massive step backwards from last season. His splits during January and February are flat out terrible:
January: Feburary: 5.4 ppg 4.0 ppg
27.9 3pt% 26.7 3pt%
3.2 REB 1.6 REB
0.8 AST 0.4 AST
He's currently hovering around 15 minutes per game in a limited role off of the bench. Kevin Knox needs a G-league stint just for that sake of his confidence. If you're an interim coach fighting for wins and you have a player that's not improving during the course of the season, why would you play him massive minutes? Especially when you have other players at that same position who are playing significantly better.
The one player whom I agree with playing more is Mitchell Robinson. The sky is the limit for this kid. If only the Knicks could surround him with an elite play-maker this coming draft or during free agency this summer....sigh....Anyways, I digress. The problem that has hampered Robinson is his foul trouble. Every game he always seems to get caught in situations where he gets taken advantage of. In defense of Mike Miller, you can't really sustain a flow to the game when one of your best prospects is always in foul trouble. I would love to see him bulk up during the off-season so he could use his strength and his feet rather than his hands.
Mitchell Robinson Per 36:
Lastly you have Frank Ntilikina, the questionable 8th overall pick 3 years ago is in his 3rd year and by in large hasn't lived up to expectations. There are many people who would want to see Frank Ntilikina inserted into the starting lineup over Elfrid Payton at the moment but I just simply can't wrap my head around that idea. Payton simply has been the better PG when in the starting lineup and coach Mike Miller sees that. Coach Miller currently has a point guard that runs the offense well and is quite the thief on defense. When the Knicks went on a 4 game winning streak a couple of weeks back, Elfrid Payton was a big part of that run. Granted, he has had his ups and downs during the season but it's clear that he's the Knicks best point guard at the moment and from Mike Miller's point of view, that's all that matters. Also -- remember back in November when the Knicks essentially gave Frank the keys to the car? Well by in large, he just couldn't handle it. Yes I understand that it was under a different coach but he simply did not impress. Whether or not he grows into the player many are waiting to see is TBD.
So far what we have seen from Frank is nothing more than an elite defensive prospect. His defensive metrics are above average for your typical NBA player -- but when Payton is starting, Mike Miller loves to have Ntilikina come off the bench and use him during high leverage defensive possessions -- which to me is the exact role Frank thrives in considering his strengths and weaknesses.
So with all of that, I understand what Mike Miler is trying to accomplish. It's hard to just go all in on the youth when they are all vastly underperforming and you have veterans on the squad that give you a better chance at winning -- and as an Interim coach who knows his days are numbered, wins matter substantially.
If the Knicks truly wanted to go all in on playing their draftees' extended minutes, management has to interfere -- but hey, we all know that has been a mess as well.