NY Knicks: Player grades for scorching hot month of April

Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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NY Knicks
Nerlens Noel, NY Knicks. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Nerlens Noel is playing the best basketball of his NBA career.. C. New York Knicks. NERLENS NOEL. A

NY Knicks: Where would they be without Nerlens Noel?

It will continue to be a Nerlens Noel lovefest. The 27-year-old center has stuck around in this league for his defense but he’s knocked it into another gear in April. Noel has been an absolute menace defending the paint for the Knicks. His 2.6 blocks per game in April were the most of any player in the NBA.

There aren’t many teams who could have a backup center step up for their injured starter and put on a performance like this. Noel has been so good that he has a legitimate argument to make an All-NBA Defensive team this season (Even though he will probably get snubbed.) Noel remains not just one of the most impactful bigs but one of the most dominant defenders of any position in the NBA.

Noel is not known for his offense but even in that half of the game, he’s made improvements (Lower turnover rate, catching more passes). He is playing the best possible basketball that Nerlens Noel can play and has been a big part of this team’s success.

Taj Gibson has been thrust into a bigger role and hasn’t backed down from anyone.. C. New York Knicks. TAJ GIBSON. A-

Taj Gibson, like Noel, has played an increased role in Mitchell Robinson’s absence. Gibson, also like Noel, is not part of the NY Knicks’ gameplan on offense – but that hasn’t usually mattered. Gibson has been an energizer off the bench.

Gibson’s veteran presence is clear on the court. He plays within his skillset and only takes high-quality looks (Shooting 68.5% in April). Gibson is definitely limited in his mobility and doesn’t become much of a roll option or a threat to catch alley-oops, but he’ll scrap for his points. He’s not the shot-blocker Noel is but he knows his rotations on defense. Every time he steps on the court, he’s fighting for the ball on the glass.