The New York Knicks started Jericho Sims over Isaiah Hartenstein for the injured Mitchell Robinson in their 136-130 win over the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 11. Will Sims remain as the interim starter until Robinson returns?
Knicks: Sims Controls Boards, Outplayed by Hartenstein in First Start of Season
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau had this to say about Sims stepping into the starting role and spelling for the league’s best offensive rebounder, per Zach Braziller of the New York Post:
“He’s done it before. Every opportunity he has gotten he has already been ready for that opportunity,” Thibodeau said. “Injuries are a part of the game, and that’s why you have a roster of 15. When one guy goes out, the next guy [has to] be ready to step in and get the job done. And that’s what I like about [Jericho].”
Sims scored two points and grabbed seven rebounds in 21 minutes as the Knicks downed the Raptors. Meanwhile, Hartenstein saw 27 minutes and flirted with a double-double, putting up 11 points and eight boards on the affair.
Sims was the favored choice to start in Robinson’s place last season and it seems that trend will carry over into this year. Sims started in 16 of the 23 games Robinson missed in 2022-23. He controlled the glass and gave the Knicks a lob threat as well as an imposing body in the pick-and-roll.
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Both Sims and Hartenstein Will Battle For Time at Center Over the Next Two Months
With Robinson now expected to miss anywhere from 6-10 weeks after undergoing ankle surgery for an ailment suffered this past Friday against the Boston Celtics, Sims will be a vital part of the Knicks’ rotation whether he continues getting run with the starting five or backs up Hartenstein in that time frame.
Hartenstein has been lauded by Thibodeau for taking a different approach to his game this season. The sixth-year pro has strayed away from finesse play and has focused more on setting his teammates up with screens and crashing the glass as a prototypical bruiser.
Nevertheless, coach Thibodeau has continued with a mold that has worked dating back to last year. Hartenstein’s energy will be needed for a second unit that has fared well offensively against other reserve lineups thus far. With Hartenstein averaging a career-high 2.7 offensive rebounds per game at a 16.7 percent rate, Thibodeau will have the option to insert him into the starting lineup should the Knicks see a considerable drop-off in that department while Robinson recovers.