Jericho Sims thriving as Mitchell Robinson nears return

PHOENIX — Mitchell Robinson joined the Knicks on the follow courtroom 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 “so much nearer” to coming back from the knee damage 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 massive man has proven his worth when pressed into responsibility since Robinson was injured. That included Sims’ second double-double in three video games, on Friday throughout a five-city street journey that can proceed Sunday afternoon towards 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’re going to get extra time,” Sims mentioned Friday in San Francisco. “I’m positive [Robinson] is gonna come again and play, however I’ll be there at any time when they want me.”

Jericho Sims and Mitchell Robinson (inset)
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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 courtroom, however they had 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 has 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 decide (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 ft. Gives you the chance to change extra [on the defensive end],” Thibodeau mentioned of Sims. “Offensively, the strain 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 follow. He’s obtained an actual good really feel for it.”

Sims credited his footwork and skill to protect smaller gamers to manning different positions whereas rising up in Minnesota. He acquired his first begin of the season earlier this month in Minneapolis towards the Timberwolves, along with his mother and father and different relations in attendance. He mentioned a development spurt in highschool led him to change to middle, earlier than enjoying behind and studying from fellow NBA massive 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 enjoying good protection, by sliding my ft and transferring my ft,” Sims mentioned. “I’m positive if [opposing players] do not know me, they actually aren’t anticipating me to do this.”

Sims additionally admitted that it took him just a few video games within the rotation to seek out his rhythm after he performed a complete of simply eight minutes over the Knicks’ first eight video games.

“For positive, as a result of you have to get your wind, obtained to get your reps in, and that is actually it, the sport reps are crucial,” Sims mentioned. “That’s actually the place I’m getting my wind and my cardio in.”

Sims has helped the Knicks keep on top of things, 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 street journey.

“We nonetheless obtained an opportunity to make it a fantastic journey,” Randle mentioned after the loss to the Warriors. “We’ve obtained two extra video games, two extra very winnable video games. We’ve obtained an opportunity to make it a fantastic journey and return residence feeling fairly good about ourselves.”

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