Within most organizations, sports or otherwise, thinking outside the box is encouraged -- when everyone else zigs, you zag. Well, first-year New York Knicks coach David Fizdale is definitely zagging.
"I might play [Porzingis] at what you call a small forward and go him, Luke [Kornet], Mitch [Mitchell Robinson] and put a whole bunch of wingspan with Kevin [Knox] at two. And see how teams deal with that at the rim and with our length. I can't lock [Porzingis] into nothing. I see a lot of places I can use him to be dynamic for us."
Just in case you're not familiar with those players (Robinson and Knox are rookies), here's what that lineup would look like if second-year guard Frank Ntilikina joins them at point.
- PG: Frank Ntilikina (6-5)
- SG: Kevin Knox (6-9)
- SF: Kristaps Porzingis (7-3)
- PF: Luke Kornet (7-1)
- C: Mitchell Robinson (7-1)
That lineup is so big, it's literally outside the box. Fizdale added that he has a "crush on wingspan."
Needless to say, Fizdale's gigantic lineup flies in the face of modern convention. The small-ball revolution led by teams like the Houston Rockets and perfected by the Golden State Warriors is now widespread, with 7-footers routinely unable to stay on the court because of their lack of defensive versatility.
But the tide has to turn eventually. Fizdale's lineup is full of tall people, but none of them are traditional post players. Knox is a wing who shot 4.5 3-pointers per game in his only season at Kentucky. Robinson is in the mold of DeAndre Jordan or Clint Capela, an athletic big who can catch lobs and block shots. Kornet stretches the floor with his 3-point shooting (35 percent last season), and Porzingis is called a unicorn for a reason -- he handles the ball, shoots from the perimeter and runs the floor like few 7-foot-3 players before him.
As crazy as it sounds, it's definitely worth experimenting with lineups like this. Once Porzingis returns from ACL surgery (we don't know when that will be), Fizdale may find that this lineup is a total disaster. But the way the game is played today won't be the way the game is played in 10 years, so you might as well try to get ahead of it.