Who can slide up or down?
Obviously there will not be enough minutes at the 4 position to keep all of the above happy, meaning versatility will directly impact each players ability to see respectable minutes on the floor.
Marcus Morris spent a considerable amount of time playing as a small forward during his career; during his time in Detroit he was played almost exclusively at this position.
Last season Morris did not play the small forward, but this was more due to the Boston Celtics’ depth at that position than Morris’ ability to contribute in that role.
With a logjam at power forward and a wealth of experience at the three throughout his career, he should be expected to be fighting for the starting role to start the season.
Bobby Portis is another player with experience playing in a position other than power forward; Basketball-Reference has him playing the center in 45 percent of his NBA games to date.
Portis started almost exclusively at the 5 for Washington last season (following his trade from Chicago) due to the injury sustained by Dwight Howard, posting 14.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists over the 28 games he wore a Wizards uniform.
Now on the Knicks roster, Portis will be contending with Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle for a starting spot at either the 4 or 5 position heading into the season. A
solid young big man capable of playing either position with the ability to stretch the floor having shot 36.1 percent from beyond the arc during his young NBA career, his size and versatility across the front court will ensure he sees regular minutes from the bench throughout the season.
Julius Randle joins the squad from the New Orleans Pelicans, most likely to be a regular starter at the power forward position, but he is able to play the center should the Knicks choose to go small at times.
Having spent a third of his NBA career so far playing at the center position it would not be unreasonable to expect to see him sliding up when required to do so. However, with players such as Robinson and Portis on the roster, it’s doubtful he will play significant minutes there.
A jump in production across the board this past year has seen Randle’s stock rise, posting improved numbers in points (21.4), rebounds (8.7) and assists (3.1) it’s easy to see why the Knicks signed him to a three-year, $62 million dollar contract as per spotrac.
Adding him to a starting lineup along side Robinson will make this team a force on both the offensive a defensive glass, while again having the versatility to slide up if the need arises.
Randle’s ability to shoot the three ball also improved last year with him hitting on 34.4 percent of his attempts — a 12 percent increase on his previous career best.
By sliding him to the the 5 and putting their other shooters on the floor, the Knicks will have a young, fast-paced team able to stretch their opposition defenses, allowing players like Kevin Knox more room to operate in transition.
Taj Gibson is a throwback to the players of old, a hard-nosed enforcer who takes no prisoners when rising for the rebound or dunk.
The only player of the four forwards to join the Knicks with genuine experience of playing both forward positions along with the center, Father Time has caught up with him somewhat, which may limit his impact at the small forward position.
He last played there during the 2017-18 season for the Timberwolves and it was sparingly, notching only 18 percent of his minutes at that position.
Having only signed a two-year deal with the second year being a team option, Gibson may be more of a veteran locker room presence than an on-court contributor.
He is still able to contribute though, coming off a season where he posted 10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 24.1 minutes per game.
He still has some miles left in the tank, but he may find himself deep into this team’s rotation behind the young guys who require minutes and reps to improve.