Knicks’ Jericho Sims is proving to be an intriguing long-term option

In the crucial minutes of a game the Knicks needed to have, they relied heavily on a 23-year-old rookie center.

The Curtsy didn’t play Sunday’s game against the Netsbut they were pleased with what they saw of Jericho Sims.

The second-round pick played a career-high 23 minutes during the loss at Barclays Center – some of the best minutes of his short professional life – and was on the floor all but the final 13.4 seconds on the floor.

In a game the Knicks lost by three, they beat the Nets by 20 when Sims was floored in his 27th game of the season. The big man from Texas is raw — particularly offensively — but his skill and athleticism make up for it Prospect of losing soon-to-be free agent Mitchell Robinson tastier.

More gifted with mobility than any other Knicks power forward or center, Sims was the best option to slow down Nic Claxton, another young, agile center. Sims altered some shots that Robinson and Taj Gibson couldn’t.

Nick Claxton
Jericho Sims played a career-high 23 minutes against the Nets.
USA TODAY sports

“I thought Jericho gave us great energy. He’s big, he’s a tough guy to throw over. I think that was good for us,” said coach Tom Thibodeau after Sims won 3-on-3 for six points with 10 rebounds and a block. “He can get out there, catch, then back to the basket, protect us on the edge.”

Sims, who had more time in the second half as the playoffs were likely too far away to be chased, is known for his jumping skills and a second-quarter connection on a pick-and-roll with Alec Burks — who picked up the ball high in the air threw the air for Sims to bat down – reminiscent of his maximum vertical of 44.5 inches, which was eye-opening for the NBA draft combine.

But his work shone defensively against the nets. He can secure himself on screens, briefly double the player with the ball and climb back to his man, a skill he has shown many times.

Jericho Sims defends Nic Claxton.
Jericho Sims defends Nic Claxton.

With about 1 1/2 minutes remaining in a tie, Sims ceded his man to doubles team Kevin Durant for half the spot. The Knicks successfully got the ball out of Durant’s hands and James Johnson landed a clean drive to the basket. But Sims recovered quickly enough and did a good job of deflecting the shot on the rim. Sims then passed the rebound to Julius Randle.

There’s plenty of talent for the Knicks to work with defensively. On the other side of the court, Sims is essentially jumping off trampolines and is 15-16 in dunks this season — but has taken a jumper in 242 career minutes. He missed.

“He’s still a work in progress on offense,” said Thibodeau, whose Knicks were off Monday and host the Trail Blazers on Wednesday. “He has to help us with the execution. He has to understand what we want to achieve.” Knicks’ Jericho Sims is proving to be an intriguing long-term option


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