Enes Kanter was one of two players sent to the New York Knicks in exchange for Carmelo Anthony. How will he affect Willy Hernangomez’s development?
Prior to yesterday’s deal between the Knicks and Thunder, it was easy to assume that 6-foot-11 big man Willy Hernangomez was going to be New York’s starting center next to Kristaps Porzinigs.
Through 72 games in 2016-17, the Spanish rookie averaged eight points and seven rebounds on an efficient 53% shooting.
However, the addition of Enes Kanter will most likely result in Hernangomez coming off the bench. Considering his lack of experience in comparison, Knicks head coach Hornacek may deem the former Thunder center a better fit.
Last season, Kanter averaged 14.3 points per 21 minutes played and has, for the most part, come off the bench during his seven year career.
Although coach Hornacek could start Hernangomez, and continue to deploy Kanter off the bench, similar to how he was used in OKC, it is very unlikely.
New York won’t be in playoff contention next year. So there is no better way to experiment Kanter than allowing him to play 30 minutes a night. The Turkish forward is far more polished offensively than Hernangomez, after averaging 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds last season.
Because of his lower ceiling, it is far safer to be experimenting with Kanter during meaningless basketball than with Hernangomez, who is expected to be an integral part of New York’s future.
Either way, the Knicks now have themselves a strong set of centers to use next to Porzingis down low. That includes Joakim Noah, once he returns from the 12 more games he will miss due to suspension.
This season will serve as a tryout for Kanter. If he shows flashes of dominance, the Knicks will most likely pick up his player option for next year, while developing the young Hernangomez all the while.