Knicks guard Derrick Rose missed Saturday's game in Denver with a lingering back issue, leaving the Knicks thinner at the point.
New York has lost its last three games, with Rose playing a combined 10 minutes because of the back problem.
Brandon Jennings has filled in for Rose, scoring 14 points on just 25 percent shooting on Saturday night. That came on the heels of a game in which he shot 30.8 percent.
Brandon has the ability to drive in there too," head coach Jeff Hornacek told reporters. "But I think Derrick's finishes really draws guys into the lane. And then we're able to kick out from that. Brandon will dribble around and throw it out to somebody. But I'm not sure other teams are as concerned with Brandon finishing at the basket as they are with Derrick."
Jennings has been nothing short of a revelation for the Knicks this season. Upon building their squad, New York signed the sometimes overzealous point guard to a bargain one-year deal, hoping he could provide a scoring boost off the bench.
Instead, Jennings' 5.3 assists per game lead this team, and his unselfishness has been a refreshing surprise. He's built up great chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis and others to help make them look good on the floor. His dribble penetration has also led to easier looks around the basket and he has an uncanny ability to free himself up more beyond the 3-point line and create space for himself to hit fade away jumpers.
Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to pull it all together again while filling in for Rose as of late. Over the last three games, Rose has appeared in just 10 minutes of game action. Tasked with playing a larger (or albeit it, simply a different) role, Jennings is shooting just 26 percent from the field during that same span. The Knicks have gone 0-3.
Jennings has looked more tentative than downright lost, but it's still a cause for concern. Normally, Rose has a great read on the defense. He knows exactly when to drive or when to slow it down and look for his teammates instead. Jennings hasn't demonstrated that same level of awareness. The balance isn't there. To his own credit, he's continued to play unselfishly. When not complemented by Rose, however, New York needs more of that killer instinct from him. Jennings hasn't been as explosive, which ultimately limits the team's opportunities on offense.
It's worth noting that together, Rose and Jennings can put forth a very strong collective attack at the point guard position. Even if Jennings was doing everything the Knicks were hoping for, there'd still be somewhat of a drop off when he sits. Ron Baker has held his own and made smart decisions while filling in, but he's not nearly as much of a threat around the basket. He doesn't the own the same pep in his step that Rose and Jennings do to keep the defense on its toes. This is where Chasson Randle's style of play would be more favored on this team.
It's absolutely necessary to be patient with Rose. Even so, having Randle at a time like this would give the Knicks more of what they need and lessen the burden.