The New York Knicks had a wonderful first season under head coach Tom Thibodeau. A big reason for their surprise turnaround was the improvements they made on the defensive end of the court — posting elite results compared to the rest of the NBA.
Thibodeau-coached teams are always tenacious defensively, and this year’s team was no different. They ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating as everyone was on the same page and accomplishing their assignment.
Unlike most teams in the NBA, the Knicks very rarely went small. For their scheme to work a traditional center that locks down the paint is needed on the court. They achieved that by rotating between Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson.
Robinson battled injuries throughout the season but made major strides in his third season as a rebounder while still offering great rim protection. He cut down on his fouling, which led to more playing time.
Noel signed a one-year, $5 million deal last offseason and was phenomenal for the Knicks. He was the only player in the NBA to average at least one block and steal per game despite playing only 24.2 minutes The veteran Gibson is a favorite of Thibodeau’s and wasn’t expected to play many minutes but when he was called upon he delivered.
The position could look different in the coming months. Noel played himself into a contract worth at least double, if not triple, what he earned last season. Robinson’s injuries could keep the team from committing to him long-term and Gibson is 36.
Depending on what the team does at the position, here are three centers they could target this offseason.