Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau not Losing hope in big man rotation

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau coaches against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have been linked to Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and Philadelphia 76ers reigning MVP Joel Embiid in trade rumors for weeks now, but head coach Tom Thibodeau is satisfied with his rotation at center for the time being.

Thibodeau Remaining Confident in Knicks Bigs at His Disposal

Presently, Thibodeau likes what he sees from Mitchell Robinson, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Jericho Sims in the midst of their early season struggles, as he told Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News:

“[Isaiah] and Mitch together, it’s a great tandem,” Thibodeau said ahead of tipoff against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. “They compliment each other extremely well, they support each other, they’re great teammates. You throw Jericho [Sims] in there as well, that position, we feel pretty good about it.”

All three big men bring rim protection and exceptional defense to the Knicks’ front line. Hartenstein in particular has played with energy off the bench as he’s floated from center to power forward behind the struggling Julius Randle.

Robinson is producing relative to his career peripherals but has been especially active on the boards. He’s pulling down 11.4 rebounds per game and giving the Knicks six second-chance opportunities on the offensive glass.

Sims has yet to find playing time in the early stages of the season but Thibodeau knows what he is capable of bringing to the team, especially when his number does get called. In 16 starts last season, Sims shot almost 80 percent from the field and had eight games with seven or more rebounds.

Thibodeau Facing Execution Problems in Knicks Offense

Robinson, Hartenstein, and Sims are steady contributors who do their jobs well, but the Knicks have issues in their offense at large that must be addressed.

The Knicks have no problem drilling triples from beyond the arc. Everywhere inside of the three-point line has been disastrous. They’re converting 44.2 percent of their two-point opportunities and registering 39.2 points in the paint per game. Both rank dead last in the NBA and won’t fly for a team with championship aspirations.

Further, New York is shooting poorly from the field and the free-throw line and is struggling to find easier scoring opportunities. Once again, their bigs are not getting attention in the pick-and-roll. They attempt three field goals per game as a collective (No. 27 overall) and finish only 33.3 percent of those sparse looks (No. 29 overall).

Towns and Embiid will likely require one or two of the Knicks’ centers along with RJ Barrett and a collection of future draft picks (which the Knicks have at their disposal) in a potential trade. While those deals would gift the Knicks with a superstar and remedy the aforementioned issues, Thibodeau is focused on making things work with the group of guys in his locker room, as he should be.

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