PHOENIX — Mitchell Robinson joined the Knicks on the apply court docket Friday in San Francisco, and was listed as questionable Saturday. That important step led coach Tom Thibodeau to imagine that the staff’s beginning middle is “loads nearer” to getting back from the knee harm that has sidelined him for the previous eight video games.
That enchancment might spell an eventual return to a lowered function for Jericho Sims, however the second-year large man has proven his worth when pressed into obligation since Robinson was injured. That included Sims’ second double-double in three video games, on Friday throughout a five-city highway journey that can proceed Sunday afternoon in opposition to the Suns.
The 24-year-old Sims completed with 10 factors, 10 rebounds and three blocked photographs in 27 minutes off the bench within the Knicks’ 111-101 loss to the Warriors.
“You hear on a regular basis coaches saying ‘keep prepared,’ and that is all I’ve actually been doing. The time will come that you will get extra time,” Sims mentioned Friday in San Francisco. “I’m certain [Robinson] is gonna come again and play, however I’ll be there at any time when they want me.”
Robinson, who signed a four-year deal price $60 million in July, hasn’t performed since he sprained his proper knee on Nov. 4 in Philadelphia. The Knicks have missed the 7-footer’s inside presence at each ends of the court docket, however they have been 4-4 with him within the lineup and have gone 4-4 with out him.
Sims has began two of these eight contests, with backup Isaiah Hartenstein getting the nod within the different six video games of Robinson’s absence. Thibodeau additionally experimented with a smaller frontcourt alignment — with Julius Randle at middle and Obi Toppin at energy ahead — for stretches of these video games.
But the 6-9 Sims, the Knicks’ second-round choose (58th general) out of Texas in 2021, has impressed the teaching workers with averages of 6.0 factors, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocked photographs over the previous eight video games.
“Yeah, the athleticism, nice toes. Gives you the chance to change extra [on the defensive end],” Thibodeau mentioned of Sims. “Offensively, the stress on the rim. Very good playmaker on brief rolls. We nonetheless have not seen it within the video games, however we have seen it in apply. He’s bought an actual good really feel for it.”
Sims credited his footwork and talent to protect smaller gamers to manning different positions whereas rising up in Minnesota. He obtained his first begin of the season earlier this month in Minneapolis in opposition to the Timberwolves, along with his mother and father and different members of the family in attendance. He mentioned a progress spurt in highschool led him to change to middle, earlier than taking part in behind and studying from fellow NBA large males Mo Bamba and Jaxson Hayes at Texas.
Sims even stepped out to protect Nuggets guard Jamal Murray late within the Knicks’ win at Denver this previous Wednesday.
“I’ve all the time felt comfy stepping out on smaller guards and taking part in good protection, by sliding my toes and shifting my toes,” Sims mentioned. “I’m certain if [opposing players] do not know me, they actually aren’t anticipating me to try this.”
Sims additionally admitted that it took him just a few video games within the rotation to search out his rhythm after he performed a complete of simply eight minutes over the Knicks’ first eight video games.
“For certain, as a result of you have to get your wind, bought to get your reps in, and that is actually it, the sport reps are a very powerful,” Sims mentioned. “That’s actually the place I’m getting my wind and my cardio in.”
Sims has helped the Knicks keep in control, with two wins within the first three video games of this journey, together with his first double-double (11 factors and 13 boards) within the win Tuesday at Utah.
The Knicks must win one of many subsequent two video games — on the Suns and on the Thunder on Monday — to return to New York with a successful report on the highway journey.
“We nonetheless bought an opportunity to make it an ideal journey,” Randle mentioned after the loss to the Warriors. “We’ve bought two extra video games, two extra very winnable video games. We’ve bought an opportunity to make it an ideal journey and return residence feeling fairly good about ourselves.”