Baron Davis returned to the Knicks on Sunday after missing the last two games with a stomach bug.
To this point in his Knicks tenure, Davis has failed to live up to any of the expectations the team had for him going into this season. In fact, as poorly as he has played thus far, that's how oh so very refreshing the play of Mike Bibby has been for the team as of late.
Giving the Knicks a taste of what an efficient floor general can do with their offensive firepower, Bibby averaged 7.6 points and 6 assists in three games before Davis' return. Though none of these numbers are particularly outstanding, each one represents an upgrade from what Davis provides. What's more, the Knicks' went 2-1 with Bibby playing major minutes, and were visibly elevated under the orchestration of the veteran.
Davis did assume the starting position once again upon his return (despite Bibby's strong outings), but apparently took note of the backup guard's success. Davis responded by pouring in 13 points and dishing out a season-high 10 assists in his team's victory.
With Bibby making such a positive impact, Davis may have seen the writing on the wall. The starting job is his to lose, and thus far, has only kept it by default. The Knicks have very few alternatives, and Davis has gotten lucky because of that. Now that Bibby has gotten even a small-sample of an opportunity, it's time for the UCLA product to step it up.
The Knicks do not need much from their floor general. The 13 points Davis added in the team's win over the Hawks was a nice added bonus, but certainly isn't necessary. Better yet, all that's required from a New York Knick point guard is efficient passing. Bibby limited the turnovers during his time on the court, and if Davis wants consistent minutes of his own, he'll need to follow suit.
Davis has played erratically over his Knicks tenure, making errant passes and turning the ball over more times than not. His struggles consistency shine through for the worse. He has continued to bring the team down with his play, but perhaps he's set to turn over a new leaf now that Bibby has set the tone. Davis began to display an impressive pick & roll rhythm with Amar'e Stoudemire, elevating the play of them both.
Stoudemire's own success is often dependent on a point guard getting him the ball in the right spots. The Knicks are going to want someone on the court who does that, furthermore maximizing all of his teammates' different talents. This will be the key to Davis remaining on the court.
Should he be able to clamp down and successfully fill a void for the Knicks, not only will Davis keep his starting job, but he'll also be leading the team through the playoffs.