The Knicks’ bench has been more than productive to start out the season. During opening night in Memphis, the second unit sparked a 19-point comeback led by Cam Reddish. Reddish put up 22 points and five rebounds while shooting 50% from three-point range in 28 minutes. The former lottery pick sent the game into overtime with his three-pointer from the corner, right in front of the Grizzlies’ bench, knotting the score at 108.
Newly acquired center Isaiah Hartenstein kept the Knickerbockers in the game as well. Coach Thibodeau loved what he was seeing from his seven-footer and kept him out there for 40 minutes! Hartenstein took advantage of the time as he had 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. He very much outplayed starting center Mitchell Robinson, who was in foul trouble, by 27 minutes.
The Knicks’ second unit has been strong to start out the 2022-23 season
This continued into the next game. In the home opener against the Detroit Pistons, the second unit proved they could hold their own while the starters were getting a breather.
After a rough night in Memphis, Immanuel Quickley bounced back in Madison Square Garden. It was a close game to start, but towards the end of the first quarter, the game was in the Knicks’ hands. And guess what? It was the second unit that got the engine really going.
The Knicks ended the first quarter on an 11-2 run and started the second with a 12-2 run, thanks to the bench squad! They outscored the Pistons’ bench, 64-22! Obi Toppin, Hartenstein, Derrick Rose, and Quickley all finished the game with a +/- rating of over +20! Thibs was even able to get guys like Ryan Arcidiacono, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Trevor Keels in on the action as well. Thibodeau must be thankful for this second unit as they have played very well so far.
Who should be the Knicks’ Sixth Man this season?
But my only question is who should be the sixth man on this team? This is an important role in this game because the sixth man is essentially the next man in line to start. It’s a player who the coach can call on to get the team back on track or to maintain what’s going on in the game.
In the season opener, Quickley was the first man off the bench, but he struggled, leaving Reddish and Hartenstein to lead the second unit. After their great performances in Memphis, both Hartenstein and Reddish came off the bench first together in the home opener against Detroit. Quickley entered the game shortly after them and ended up being the most productive player in the game. He finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in 27 minutes.
The Knicks faced the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, and as I expected, Isaiah Hartenstein came off the bench first again, but this time by himself. I believe Hartenstein has given this team more energy and more heart this season. When he is in the game, everything changes on both ends of the floor. He has produced thus far and he sure is earning his minutes.
Reddish displayed his talents against the Grizzlies but didn’t have the same outing against the Pistons. Quickley had a hard time in the opener but bounced back at home. Meanwhile, the former Clipper has stayed consistent.
Although Hartenstein only had six points against Detroit, he still grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. And as I stated earlier, Hartenstein had 16 points and eight rebounds in the season opener two nights before. The big man came through for New York on Monday as well, almost securing a double-double.
Cam Reddish and Immanuel Quickley are proving they deserve more minutes, but it’s safe to say Isaiah Hartenstein’s number should be called first!