Saturday, July 13, 2024

NBA Rumors: Knicks Targeting Center Trade To Match Sixers

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The New York Knicks have been working diligently in an effort to capture an NBA championship.

After adding Mikal Bridges via trade, they re-signed OG Anunoby shortly after. Both projected to start, their perimeter defense will put teams like the Boston Celtics to the test. However, while they’re now able to match up with star wing duos, the Knicks still need to worry about the premium pivots littered around the league. One of them, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, is right in their backyard.

Having lost Isaiah Hartenstein to the Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason, New York is perusing for a starting center. In fact, they have two specific targets in mind, per the New York Post’s Marc Berman: Houston Rockets center Alperen Sengun and Detroit Pistons center Jalen Duren.

Sengun and Duren are two totally different types of players. Neither are similar to Hartenstein either. Nonetheless, they’re both upgrades over Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks’ incumbent starting center.

Alperen Sengun

Sengun would be the most skilled big man that the Knicks have had since David Lee.

For those wondering why not Kristaps Porzingis, a comparison of Sengun and Porzingis’s playmaking impact tells the tale. Sengun is prone to tunnel vision at times, simply determined to score. However, he’s a nifty passer who can operate as the fulcrum of an offense. Porzingis, like Robinson, was more-so refined to a scoring role.

Yet, even Porzingis doesn’t have Sengun’s footwork or touch inside. He isn’t the creative and instinctive scorer that Sengun is either. From that lens, the Turkish wonder is much closer to Embiid. With a career-high of 21.1 points per game, he’s not as dominant, but his stock is trending upward.

The concern with Sengun is on the other end as he’s only a so-so defender. Having improved his awareness and activity, he’s no longer as much of a weak link. Nonetheless, defensive guru Tom Thibodeau will have to coach him up. Fortunately for the Knicks, Sengun’s a willing learner.

With the Rockets questioning whether to offer the 21-year-old a max contract extension, he could truly be available.

Jalen Duren

Duren’s game is a bit simpler than Sengun’s.

More of a traditional rim-running big man, he excels in the pick-and-roll and in transition. One of the most dominant rebounders in the league, he’s just a force in the restricted area in general. Bouncy and muscle-bound, the 20-year-old’s impact in the less glamorous areas of the game are easy to overlook until he’s absent.

Duren does have burgeoning scoring skills, including a decent post-up game and midrange jumper. He’s also an underrated passer who could become a playmaker out of short rolls. Thibodeau may not ask it to be his bread-and-butter, but it’s worth noting that he has that in his bag.

Like Sengun, Thibodeau will have focus on teaching Duren defensively. Duren has great physical tools that should allow him to effectively guard players in space or inside the paint. In fact, his fluid mobility is what gives him greater defensive upside than Robinson in the modern NBA. Yet, Duren lacks optimal defensive awareness, his reactions a beat too slow. With that being said, he also needs to improve his ability to contest shots without fouling.

As the Pistons are even more unsure about Duren being part of their core moving forward than the Rockets are about Sengun, he should be the more affordable option.

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