After flaming out prematurely in the playoffs last season, the New York Knicks are revamping their offense, and that includes every position, even center.
And they’re quite versatile at the position, with Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel the main talents featured.
Neither player is too similar in either facet of the game, but it sounds like the latter is working on separating himself from his competition for the starting job.
Noel told reporters on September 28th that the Knicks coaching staff has asked him to work on his corner three:
Over his seven career seasons in the NBA, the big man has attempted just 10 three-point shots ever.
And he only connected on two of those; one with the Philadelphia 76ers and one with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
One was from above the break (2016), but his most recent make (2020) was from the left corner of the floor.
Can the eighth-year big man improve so much as match his career total from deep next season?
And why are the New York Knicks tasking him with a three-point shot now?
A Center Position Evolved
If you look at any of the NBA’s 16 playoff teams from last season, almost none have a center with a three-point shot.
But the 2021 champion Milwaukee Bucks, well they boast one of the best three-point shooting bigs in the entire league; Brook Lopez, who shot 34% last season.
And the New York Knicks last season were overpowered by the Atlanta Hawks defense, or rather, their own offensive ineptitude. They averaged a league-worst 97 points per game.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility to think that either a healthy Mitchell Robinson or a capable floor-spacing threat at the five could have altered the series outcome.
So, in an effort to close on any room for error, the Knicks are preparing to be able to roll out either.
Robinson’s on his way back from injury, and Noel’s aforementioned offensive growth is another work in progress.
Whoever progresses most could determine what the end-of-year starting lineup looks like for the New York Knicks.
Noel, Robinson to Battle for Starting Job
Some were surprised when Nerlens Noel made his way back to the New York Knicks, especially on a lucrative contract.
The 27-year old signed a three-year deal worth $32-million within days of the start of free agency.
When he was brought in last year on a one-year deal, it was to serve as Mitchell Robinson’s backup.
But after ending last season as the only player to average 2+ blocks and 1+ steals per game, the dynamic has changed.
And that much is well apparent by way of HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, who clarified the terms of his re-signing:
In bringing Nerlens Noel back, I was told Nerlens wasn’t promised the starting center spot, but he’ll have a chance to compete for it, and he’ll definitely play meaningful minutes in New York’s rotation.
This helps to clarify just what each side was thinking and reinforces that Noel’s contract was mutually beneficial.
Training camp has begun. There are 22 days until the 2021-2022’s season start.
And the New York Knicks’ starting center position has yet to be decided.