Identifying the Knicks’ biggest weakness ahead of the deadline

Isaiah Hartenstein, New York Knicks
Mar 12, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) rebounds the ball against Los Angeles Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt (2) in the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Hartenstein has stepped up for the New York Knicks in place of the injured Mitchell Robinson, but when he comes off the floor, a significant dropoff in productivity ensues, leaving some to question whether the Knicks should pursue another big man before the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline.

Do the Knicks Need Another Big Man Inside?

Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley identified three areas the Knicks need most help in, and frontcourt depth was one that he contextualized by saying:

“Clearly, the issue here isn’t Hartenstein, but rather the trickle-down behind him. During these 11 starts, the Knicks have won his minutes by a whopping 13.7 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. But when he’s taken a seat, they’ve lost those minutes by 10.5 points per 100 possessions,” Buckley said.

While the Knicks have won five straight thanks to O.G. Anunoby’s presence, they still have room to improve from the interior on out, as Buckley laid out.

However, acquiring yet another big man may not be the most expedient move for the front office to make. News broke earlier today that Robinson’s disabled player exception was denied by the league, leaving room for him to return before the season’s end.

Further, Precious Achiuwa, who came to town alongside Anunoby, was one of only three players to average six or more rebounds in under 21 minutes of play last season, joining fellow teammate Hartenstein and Andre Drummond.

That speaks volumes to the efficacy with which he is able to control the boards in the time allotted to him, especially as an undersized center at 6-9.

Sims’ ceiling is yet to be seen, as the imposing center has also managed the glass and protected the rim well as Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau’s former favored replacement starter for Robinson.

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What Direction Will the Knicks Go in Before the Trade Deadline?

Having four centers is an abundance of wealth at the position, especially with two that have proven without a doubt that their style of play is conducive to maintaining the Knicks‘ elite defense, as well as their pick-and-roll.

The Knicks are in need of a superstar talent and bench Scorer, which may be more fitting for Leon Rose to prioritize with just under four weeks left to make something happen. The Knicks have a vacant roster spot after cutting Taj Gibson. How the Knicks proceed in finalizing the roster for a championship remains to be seen as transactions around the league ramp up in the coming weeks.