Is Willy Hernangomez dead weight for the Knicks?
When the New York Knicks decided to part ways with Phil Jackson, Steve Mills was named the new President of Basketball Operations. Not long after, Mills came out and promised a new direction for the team. This new vision would revolve around the development of the team’s younger players. Since then the Knicks have gone through a roster shakeup. Carmelo Anthony is gone. Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and Michael Beasley are here to stay. Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Frank Ntilikina have all gotten their share of the lime light, but what about Willy Hernangomez? The 23-year-old center out of Spain has barely seen any playing time this season. On the season he is averaging just about five points a game in slightly above 10 minutes. Already carrying 16 players on the roster, the Knicks have to consider if it’s worth keeping him or moving him as they approach the All-Star break.
Fair question. Hernangomez was one of the players that Steve Mills had his eye on developing this season. The young player showed potential last season, but the roster change altered his projected minutes. He is doing what he can in the time he’s been given, but realistically the Knicks may not need him. Kristaps Porzingis is the team’s star player and number one big man. Enes Kanter (who I’ll talk about later) has been dominant. Between those two guys it’s hard to figure out where you get minutes for Hernangomez. Factor in Kyle O’Quinn and Michael Beasley and the task becomes even harder. If the Knicks were sitting atop the conference and had everything figured out, this wouldn’t even be a question. The fact is, however, the Knicks are back down to ninth in the East and they need to figure something out. Hernangomez could be a good player eventually, but the Knicks seem to be looking to make a playoff run now. At his age and his length other teams could be looking to trade for him, which actually may be a good thing.
Kanter has been truly dominant this season. On Christmas day he dropped 31 points along with 22 rebounds in the loss to the Sixers. He has been a surprise standout for the team, leading the Knicks in rebounds, with 10.6 per game, as well as field goal percentage. shooting 56% from the field. His great play has unfortunately been one of the impediments on the development of Hernangomez. It’s no surprise that the Knicks want to win. Kanter is proving this season that he can help them do that. While he can be a great mentor for the young player, Kanter may actually be depriving Hernangomez of his development. Simply put Hernangomez can help the Knicks in the future, but Kanter can help them in the present. The team needs to decide which is more important.
There is a difference in what you want and what you need. The Knicks may want to keep Hernangomez and figure out what to do with him throughout the rest of the season. However, New York still has gaps that need filling.If trading away Hernangomez could help fill those gaps then shouldn’t the Knicks consider a trade? While his presence doesn’t necessarily hurt the team, it isn’t helping them much either. Of course the team still needs to think about the future, but with the trade deadline coming up and the Knicks hoping to make a title run, New York may have to decide on Hernangomez sooner than later.