During the rise of center Willy Hernangomez, the New York Knicks have a chance to tap into enormous potential.
Only two players this season have totaled more than 80 points and 80 blocks so far this season. One of those players is Kevin Durant. The other? Porzingis himself.
The potential in the Latvian is tremendous but he’s not the only foreigner on the Knicks with enormous potential.
Here is another surprising stat: there are currently only two Knicks with at least 40 games played who have a positive net rating. Number one is Justin Holiday. The other one is a former CB Sevilla standout.
No, not Kristaps Porzingis, but his teammate on Sevilla, Guillermo “Willy” Hernangomez.
The emergence of Hernangomez has recently flown under the radar to due the Knicks’s pitiful performances over the last three games.
In that span, the 22-year old is averaging 15.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG and 3.7 APG in 31 minutes per game off the bench for New York. He also leads the Knicks in Player Impact Estimate (minimum of ten minutes played) and is doing this with a Usage Percentage of only 19.7 percent.
Joakim Noah, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the Knicks in the offseason, has been playing in fewer minutes in favor of Hernangomez recently, and for good reason.
In comparison to Hernangomez, Noah, as he has been for much of the season, has been dreadful with a net rating of -27.2 and a Player Impact Estimate of 7.5.
The Knicks are a team that should be evaluating and developing young players like Hernangomez. While the Knicks are only 1.5 games back of the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, they would likely draw the NBA Champs in the first round, and we saw how that turned out on Saturday night.
A sweep in the first round at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers does not do benefit the future of the franchise in any way.
The organization’s main objective for the rest of the season should be to continue to play and develop young talent like Willy Hernangomez instead of trying to push for the eighth seed while playing old and ineffective veterans like Joakim Noah.
It is very conceivable that the Knicks have found their front-court of the future with Hernangomez and Porzingis. Over Hernangomez’s three-game streak, in 28 minutes the former teammates have an Offensive Rating of 125.7 and a Defensive Rating of 79.5, giving them a whopping Net Rating of 46.3.
Yes, it’s certainly a small sample size and Hernangomez’s play over the past few games could just be a case of a reserve getting hot for a few games and eventually coming back down to Earth.
On the other hand, the only way the Knicks can see if they truly have something special with Hernangomez is by playing him.