Tom Thibodeau Explains New Role for Knicks Big Man

isaiah hartenstein

Getty Isaiah Hartenstein has a new role for the Knicks.

The New York Knicks made a couple of big signings this offseason, but the one who captured most of the headlines is Jalen Brunson.

It’s not all that surprising either as Brunson plugs the long-vacant point guard position, and he has been turning heads in the preseason. The early returns are very promising for the Knicks, and if Brunson is able to keep up this level of production, that contract he signed could end up looking like quite the bargain.

The other major signing was backup center Isaiah Hartenstein, somebody who blossomed into a Sixth Man of the Year candidate with the Clippers last season. He will be replacing Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson in the whole, players who have moved on to the Pistons and Wizards respectively.

Hartenstein brings something to the table that both of them lacked, and it’s a strong shooting touch for deep. Big men have been shooting threes more and more as the seasons go by, and while Gibson and Noel have stepped out there from time to time, Hartenstein’s touch is better than both.

His six attempts through the two preseason games, both victories, are likely a sign of things to come for the Knicks big man, and coach Tom Thibodeau is already talking about what he can provide for the team.

Hartenstein’s Green Light

Mitchell Robinson has the starting spot at center secured, but his offensive game is limited at the moment to mostly lobs and put backs after rebounds.

Hartenstein possesses an outside shot that the Knicks will be utilizing a lot this season if the preseason is anything to go by.

“I just think when you watch him shoot, he can make enough where the defense is going to honor him,” Thibodeau said via the New York Post. “He doesn’t hesitate. We watch him shoot in practice every day, he’s pretty consistent with his shot. When he’s open, his teammates want him to shoot. He’s put a lot of work into it. But he’s got touch. You can see it.”

Through his career, Hartenstein hasn’t even come close to attempting over one three a game, but if his shot is that much improved, this will likely be the year he surpasses that.

Hartenstein Has More Talents

Having players who can stretch the floor does wonders for spacing, and it’ll allow players who don’t shoot it as well from deep to cut to the basket.

Hartenstein is a decent playmaker with the ball as well, joining Randle as another playmaking big man on the roster.

“I think the last couple of practices we are cutting more so I’m able to pass it more,” Hartenstein said. “That was the biggest thing probably the first two games that I couldn’t really show. Our guys aren’t used to a big being able to pass the ball like that. Me, just talking to Obi, we had a couple passes we’ve done where he’s been cutting more lately. That’s one big thing I can bring.”

Hartenstein will be playing with Toppin often with the second unit, so it’s good to see this type of rapport already forming between the pair. Couple this with Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley off the bench and you have the makings of a deep roster.