Why the Knicks would be just fine without Isaiah Hartenstein

Apr 11, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA;  Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) controls the ball while New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) and forward Precious Achiuwa (5) defend during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

In the ever-changing NBA landscape, teams are always looking to build on the season prior. The New York Knicks find themselves in a position where the organization is set to contend, but there are question marks surrounding what the Knicks rotation will look like come opening night.

Speculation regarding Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein possibly leaving for Oklahoma City has gained traction, leaving much debate on how New York fills the void if Hartenstein chooses to walk.

Precious Achiuwa is ready for more minutes

nba: boston celtics at new york knicks, precious achiuwa
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The arrival of Achiuwa on Broadway in late December saw much criticism. The fifth-year pro was in the deal that saw the Knicks trade away both Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett. Besides the emotional aspect of trading way tenured players, it took time for Achiuwa to find his footing in the Knicks rotation.

Coincidentally, a January 20th matchup against his former team, the Toronto Raptors, saw the arrival of Precious Achiuwa. With Hartenstein going down early that game to a sore left ankle, it was Achiuwa stepping up huge, to the tune of, 18 points and 11 rebounds on 90% from the floor.

Showing his bag in this matchup, Achiuwa made plays off the dribble, as well as having tenacity on rebounds. With the Knicks lacking depth in the frontcourt, Achiuwa made his mark from that night until the end of the season. 

The Knicks could replace Hartenstein with Achiuwa

Feb 24, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives to the basket against New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) and center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) and guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next two months, it was the “Precious Achiuwa Show” for New York. Great performances included 13 points and 16 rebounds vs. Dallas, 23 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists vs. Orlando, a dominant 15 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks again against Orlando, and 19 points with 12 rebounds against the Raptors. 

The luxury of Achiuwa filling front-court duties for the Knicks saved the season, it goes under the radar, but there were stretches when both Hartenstein and Robinson weren’t available, so it was up to Achiuwa who averaged 37.5 MPG in the contests listed above.

In a time of need when the Knicks were desperate for production, Achiuwa stepped up huge, playing the best basketball of his career. A long road the big man from Memphis has had in the NBA, and he can be even better with his length and quickness around the rim. The unspoken iron man for the New York Knicks has been ready for the next opportunity, and if Hartenstein chooses elsewhere, Achiuwa will be more than prepared for the moment. 

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