Despite failing to come up with a victory against the Thunder on Tuesday night, the Knicks had to be pleased with their overall effort. New York still managed to push OKC to its limit without Carmelo Anthony, which meant plenty of other key contributors stepped up to the plate and subsequently shined.
Langston Galloway led six players in double-figures with a season-high 21 points, shooting 7 of 13, including four clutch daggers from long range. He was feeling it all night long. Such assertiveness is something that the Knicks have sorely missed from Galloway this season.
Coming off a positive rookie season during which he was one of the team's rare bright spots, there's no doubt Galloway has plenty of potential. He doesn't shy away from the big moment and enjoys being encouraged to attack the basket, shooting from the perimeter and pouring in the points.
There's no doubt he provides tremendous value as a spark plug off the bench, but New York really hasn't given him the green light much this season. Instead, they've utilized him as a spot shooter to help spread the floor (he's shot 39 percent from three this season), all the while providing steady defense.
His defense has certainly been a focus this season, and on Tuesday night, that paid off as he helped slow down Russell Westbrook (if just a tad, enough to help the Knicks hang around) in the second half. Galloway came up with three steals and applied good pressure.
Employing versatile performers is one thing, but understanding how to utilize their respective strengths even further is another. One could argue that the Knicks have been doing Galloway an injustice this season, and it's a shame Anthony had to be sidelined for him to prove it.
If the Knicks can find sufficient room for Galloway in their offense, they'll only go on to thrive. Of course, the team boasts a much more dynamic offense with Anthony, Arron Afflalo, Kristaps Porzingis, and even Derrick Williams this season. But there are nights where one or more of these respective performers have gone cold, and New York chooses to stick it out, living or dying by their offense, instead of calling upon the next man in line without hesitation.
There's a place for players like Galloway in today's NBA, and moreover, a key role for a player like him in the Knicks' rotation. He is strong around the basket, has solid range, and gains even more confidence in the clutch. He's been catching on to how to direct an offense a bit more and be a better off the ball player. When there's a lull in the action (and the team goes stagnant), they need to continue calling upon Galloway to push the tempo.
The second-year guard needs to be utilized more often as the next weapon in the team's line of defense, not only for his own development, but for the Knicks' benefit as well.