New York Knicks: Pablo Prigioni Stepping Up in the Absence of Jason Kidd

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New York Knicks: Pablo Prigioni Stepping Up in the Absence of Jason Kidd
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

During this dominant start to the season for the New York Knicks, a lot of the veterans on this roster have had their fingerprints all over how the team has played.

Future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd has been the most influential of these veterans, providing experience and an assuring presence.

So when Kidd went down with a back injury ahead of Wednesday's game against Milwaukee, it was understandable to think that the guard rotation would take a bit of a hit.

But as much as Kidd has been missed so far, the Knicks' backcourt is surviving, and it's all thanks to Pablo Prigioni.

Prigioni has moved into the role of the full-time backup point guard with Kidd out, and has done an admirable job to this point.

The oldest rookie in NBA history at age 35, Prigioni was signed after an extensive career overseas.

Born in Argentina, Prigioni was known mainly for what he did in the Spanish League, where he won eight titles and was voted the country's best point guard on multiple occasions. Despite his storied career in Europe, however, Prigioni was still an unknown commodity when signed by the Knicks for the rookie's minimum this summer.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Prigioni has been a great floor general off the bench.

At the Olympics, where he played alongside the likes of Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola for Argentina, Prigioni started to grab the attention of Knicks fans as they awaited his arrival in the NBA. And it was those Argentina teammates who convinced Prigioni to come over, as they believed he belonged on basketball's biggest stage.

So far, Prigioni has proved them right.

Coming off the bench, Prigioni has already built some great chemistry with the likes of J.R. Smith and Steve Novak.

Prigioni is a truly pass-first player and as pure a point guard as they come, resulting in an average of 6 assists since Kidd's injury.

Though he rarely defers to it, Prigioni has an effective jump shot, too, and even at his age can penetrate with the help of a pick-and-roll.

These last couple of games he has shot 7-for-9, putting up 9.5 points per game in the increased minutes he is receiving.

There may be a slight language barrier and some adjustments to be made with the change of scenery, but Prigioni has been a fantastic teammate and contributor. Just take a look at what Rasheed Wallace had to say about him:

"Pablo is a great point guard. We saw that with Argentina’s national team. He’s done it in practice. He’s a good point guard that went through a bad stretch." (via the New York Daily News)

Prigioni's emergence may just cause some headaches for Mike Woodson when it comes to deciding on his guard rotation with everyone healthy.

But it's a good problem to have, as Prigioni is establishing himself as arguably the best third-string point guard in the entire league.

Stats used in this article were accurate as of Dec. 1, 2012.

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