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New York Knicks’ trio of big men will excel in 2022-23

Teresa Powe

New York Knicks fans have much to celebrate when it comes to big men. Record-breaker Mitchell Robinson is back with a $60 million contract that will keep him in New York for three more years. At just 24 years old, Robinson can grow and develop into one of the league’s great big men, let alone lead the Knicks into the promised land.

In addition, the Knicks have added Isaiah Hartenstein, the former Clipper who intends to bring not only defense but a little offense at the center position. Then, there is Jericho Sims. Sims signed a three-year contract this offseason and will bring a silent but deadly defense/offense to the position. New York’s big men can be a force. Here’s why.

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Mitchell Robinson could be building block for the New York Knicks

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks
Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Robinson is the longest-tenured member of the Knicks. Drafted in 2018, Tom Thibodeau is Robinson’s third coach. Thibs and the Knicks’ President, Leon Rose, rely heavily on him. After signing the contract, Rose made it clear.

“We are ecstatic that Mitchell Robinson, a key member of our foundation, has signed a long-term extension. He’s our defensive anchor, our rim protector, and someone our organization has seen grow tremendously both on and off the court over the last four seasons.”

New York Knicks president Leon Rose on Mitchell Robinson

Last season, Robinson averaged 8.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in 72 games. He is one of the league’s best rim protectors and shot blockers. He is also one of the Knicks’ best hopes for the future.

Mitchell Robinson broke records as a rookie

Robinson came into the league breaking New York Knicks records. On March 20, 2019, the Utah Jazz defeated the Knicks by 21 points, but Robinson had much to celebrate. He not only scored a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds), Robinson had three blocks — making it 29 straight games with a block en route to breaking Patrick Ewing’s 28-game rookie record for straight games with a block. Not only that, but the three blocks gave Robinson 135 blocks, breaking Kristaps Porzingis’ record of 134 blocks in a rookie season.

In his second season, Robinson broke Wilt Chamberlains single season field goal percentage with a .742 mark, ultimately breaking his record last season with a .761 field goal percentage.

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Isaiah Hartenstein

new york knicks isaiah hartenstein
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rose and company signed the 7-foot Isaiah Hartenstein to a two-year, $16 million contract this summer. After journeying around the league, Hartenstein has a home in New York. The Houston Rockets selected Hartenstein in the 2017 NBA Draft with the 43rd pick. After the Rockets, there was Denver for a short while, then the Cleveland Cavaliers. Finally, Hartenstein landed in Los Angeles.

Hartenstein averaged 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists as a Clipper. He averaged 47% from beyond the arc, which is a significant uptick for the Knicks because their other big men so far are more defensive than offensive.

Clippers coach Ty Lue had this to say about the veteran center.

“He amazed me by the way he passed the basketball, his reads, and his instincts with the basketball in his hands and so you don’t really see that a lot from a guy who’s 6-11, 7 foot, to be able to make instinctive plays like he can.”

Doc Rivers on recently signed New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein

In 68 games in the 2021-22 season, Hartenstein shot 62.6% from the field and 68.9% from the free throw line. He looks like an excellent catch for the Knicks, along with his averages from the three-point range.

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Jericho Sims gives the New York Knicks another young big

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks selcted Jericho Sims with the 58th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Watching Sims play, you see a young man who does not doubt what he can do and dares anyone to try to stop him from doing it. He has a frightening stare and an even more frightening dunk. He is an athletic, high-flying big man.

The Knicks have signed the 23-year-old Sims to a three-year, partially guaranteed contract for $5.66 million this offseason. The Knicks waived Tom Thibodeau’s Taj Gibson for him. Last season saw Sims shoot 72.2% from the field and 41.4% from the line while averaging 2.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in 41 games.

In five 2022 NBA Summer League games, which included the Summer League Championship, Sims averaged 11.6 points, nine rebounds and shot 80.0% from the field.

Regarding his contract, Sims said.

“It’s a big deal coming from the 58th pick, making that jump,” the Knicks’ athletic freak of a center said on Sunday night following his team’s 101-69 pasting of the Bulls. “The way I look at it is a stepping stone to the next [opportunity].”

I know that’s right, young man.