NBA fans around the world: rejoice. The 2016-17 NBA season is quickly approaching. Over a five week span, Last Word On Pro Basketball will provide a breakdown of the New York Knicks roster, looking at a different position each week. With two positions remaining, we break down New York’s power forwards.
New York Knicks Roster Breakdown: Power Forwards
The Knicks have found themselves a franchise cornerstone for years to come at the power forward position. Obviously, Kristaps Porzingis is the starter going into the season. The more pressing question concerns who will get the minutes off the bench backing him up. Will it be New York’s underachieving veteran? Or will it be the energetic but very raw free agent acquisition? It’s time to break down the power forwards on the Knicks roster.
Starter: Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis has had to deal with a wide range of emotions from Knicks fans. The fourth overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft received a chorus of loud boos on the night he was drafted. He spent the entire 2015-16 season changing the minds of everyone who had booed him. He accomplished that goal by the end of the season. The majority of New York fans now consider Porzingis to be the savior of the franchise.
The 7’3″, 240-pound big man averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 28.4 minutes per game last season. His average of 1.9 blocks per game was good for seventh in the league. Porzingis finished second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The key for Porzingis this season is to keep improving in all aspects of the game and avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
Primary Back-up: Kyle O’Quinn
Kyle O’Quinn has, by all accounts, underachieved since joining the Knicks. The New York native signed a four-year, $16 million contact in the summer of 2015. After a lackluster start to the season, O’Quinn fell out of favor with then head coach Derek Fisher and ended up getting buried on the bench. Injuries to the players ahead of him and a coaching change contributed to an increase in O’Quinn’s minutes towards the end of the season. O’Quinn ended up averaging just 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last season.
Rebounding was thought to be one of O’Quinn’s strengths, considering his 6’10”, 250-pound frame. O’Quinn only managed to reach double figures in rebounds four times last season. Entering his fifth season in the league, O’Quinn will be looking to capitalize on any opportunity that he is given. If he continues to underachieve, there’s a raw young forward on the Knicks’ roster eager to contribute.
Third String: Maurice Ndour
Maurice Ndour is looking to use training camp to earn a spot on New York’s roster. This is the second year that Ndour has attempted to make the team. He was a fan favorite during the 2015 summer league before being cut by the Knicks. Ndour averaged 9.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in six summer league games. His best game of that summer was when he scored 23 points and grabbed six rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers. Ndour signed a partially guaranteed two-year contract with New York this past off-season. He’ll make $437,318 this season. His deal would pay him $905,249 in the 2017-18 season, but that year is non-guaranteed.
Ndour has definitely taken the scenic route getting to the NBA. He was born in Sindia, Senegal. He then attended high school in Okayama, Japan. The 6’9″, 200-pound forward then came to America and went to college at Ohio University. In two seasons there, he averaged 14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 32.3 minutes per game. Ndour was ultimately cut by both the Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks early last season. He proceeded to spend the year playing overseas.
It’s possible that not all of these three players make the final New York Knicks roster. The ones who do not make it have options. The NBA Development League is a place where they can receive valuable playing time. That would end up helping both the player and the team in the long run.