New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek echoes the opinion of the organization when he says that Kristaps Porzingis isn’t a center.
The debate rages on. Kristaps Porzingis: Center or power forward? Since the 7-foot-3 unicorn entered the Association last season, the media and fans have mostly agreed on the former. The decision makers with the New York Knicks disagree.
President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson signed Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract, to be New York’s starting center. Head coach Jeff Hornacek’s comments to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News imply he’s in the same boat.
“That’s an option we’ve gone to sometimes. Sometimes it’s worked, sometimes it hasn’t been great,” the coach said. “So we want the big guys. Sometimes when we take those guys out our protection at the basket isn’t as good. That puts a bigger emphasis on our guys outside to have to stop the penetration. Because KP can block shots in there, but then his man may be doing stuff on the weak side. So I think we’re better in the long run when you have two big guys down there — KP and somebody else defensively.”
Per Bondy, Hornacek said the Knicks are “better in the long run” with KP at power forward. The coach brought up the Knicks other bigs as a reason to deter a position switch.
“We have three capable centers in Jo and Kyle and Willy played really well in Denver so if we play KP more at the 5 it kind of takes away those minutes,” Hornacek said.
Of course, the argument against Hornacek is taking away minutes from Noah would be addition by subtraction. Although Tuesday night against the Pacers was one of his few good games as a Knick his time in New York has been dreadful.
Porzingis can pull opponents away from the paint, giving teammates free reign to the paint. Check out this clip against the Phoenix Suns as an example.
Jared Dudley (playing power forward in a small-ball lineup) is covering Porzingis. On a drive from Brandon Jennings, Dudley moves towards the point guard but must stick to Porzingis at the top of the key allowing Jennings to take advantage of the mismatch.
There aren’t many other big men in the league who can command that type of attention. The Knicks need to take advantage of it more.
Porzingis and the Knicks will continue their homestand against the Orlando Magic Thursday, Dec. 22, at 7:30 p.m.