3 Reasons Isaiah Hartenstein could become Knicks’ dark horse starter

Isaiah Hartenstein , New York Knicks (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Isaiah Hartenstein , New York Knicks (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /
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Isaiah Hartenstein, New York Knicks
Isaiah Hartenstein, New York Knicks (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

3. Hartenstein protects the paint

Standing at seven-feet, Isaiah Hartenstein doesn’t get the defensive recognition he should. Not a big rebounder (five per game last season), that is one area that should certainly improve this season. If he can see more consistent minutes in the mid 20’s-low 30’s, those rebounding numbers could look a lot different at season’s end.

Although Mitchell Robinson is a much more dominant defender and established rebounder than Hartenstein right now, the Knicks should allow Isaiah room to grow and learn how to better position himself defensively.

He can turn the tide on the low rebounding numbers, but even if he doesn’t, he can look at one former Nets big man that showed everyone rebounding isn’t the only key to a big man being effective on defense.

Low rebounding numbers for big man doesn’t always mean they are a defensive liability. Thinking back to a player like Brook Lopez, the rebounding numbers were never what peopled hoped for, but he still found ways to be affective on the defensive end. Lopez earned an All-NBA Defensive Second Team honors in 2019-20 after blocking 2.4 shots per game while only pulling down 4.6 rebounds per game.

The part of Hartenstein’s game that doesn’t get talked about enough is his shot-blocking abilities. In the 18 minutes per game he saw last season, he managed 1.1 blocks per game. He also blocked at least one shot in 46 of 68 games. He has recorded one block in each of the first two games this season.

Hartenstein plays with a lot of effort on the defensive end, and hopefully, will get more of an opportunity to showcase that part of his game this season.

The Knicks organization and fans should be encouraged by what they have seen from their under-the-radar free agent signing to start the season.