New York Knicks: Why Jericho Sims arrived at the wrong time

There is a belief among some NBA media members that Jericho Sims could be the heir apparent to the starting center position for the New York Knicks due to the uncertain future of Mitchell Robinson. Marc Berman of the New York Post stated on August 5th that Sims could take over as starting center if Robinson gets injured or gets traded at some point next season.

However, Sims doesn’t have the skill set required to be the starting center for the Knicks. Sims is a player who excels close to the basket as he shot 76.6 percent in the restricted area in four seasons at the University of Texas, on 1.4 shots per game.

Sims averaged 1.1 points per game in the restricted area: 16.7 percent of his total offensive production. Unfortunately, there are only two ways that New York Knicks’ big men get to the basket: by cutting or being a roll man.

Mitchell Robinson spent 26.8 percent of his possessions as a cutter, averaging 1.9 possessions per game. He shot 76 percent from the field on 1.6 shots. He averaged 2.6 points per game as a cutter last season.

Robinson supplemented his time by being a roll man as he spent over 22.8 percent of the time in the role, averaging 1.6 possessions per game. Robinson was able to excel in the role as he shot 74.4 percent from the field on 1.4 shots per game, generating 2.3 points.

Let’s take a look at why the New York Knicks drafted Jericho Sims at the wrong time due to the skill set of their best player Julius Randle.

However, the presence of Mitchell Robinson puts the team’s best player in a position to struggle, as Julius Randle spent a significant portion of his minutes standing behind the arc. For example, Randle stood on the right wing as RJ Barrett had the ball right next to him, waiting for Robinson to come up and start a pick and roll.

Barrett held the ball until Robinson came up to set the screen. Barrett went over the screen, intending to attack the basket. Unfortunately, two Wizards players surrounded him, leading to Barrett throwing a lob pass to Robinson for a dunk.

Randle averaged a career-high in spot-up possessions and 3-point attempts, averaging 5 and 5.5, respectively. Sadly, Randle hasn’t been able to thrive in this area of his game, as he has shot below 40 percent on spot-up attempts since 2015 on 2.5 shots per game. He performed even worse from the 3-point shooting department, making 34.2 percent of his attempts on 2.2 shots per game.

Randle’s struggles from behind the arc contributed to the team performing badly on the floor with Mitchell Robinson. The team shot 44.9 percent from the field on 44.8 shots per game. They averaged 52.6 points per game, but that production wasn’t enough, as they got outscored by 0.1 points in 24.8 minutes per game.

The team did much better when they had Randle on the floor as the lone big man because Randle is a much more consistent player below the 3-point line. Randle has shot above 50 percent below the 3-point line on over 11 attempts per game since 2015. The field goal percentage helped him generate 11.6 points per game, 66.7 percent of his scoring output.

Randle’s increased consistency inside the arc led the team to perform better when he was on the floor with a wing, like Derrick Rose. The team shot 46.2 percent from the field when he was on the floor with Derrick Rose, on 30.7 shots per game. The team averaged 39.4 points and outscored opponents by 3 points per game when Randle and Rose were on the floor together for 17.4 minutes.

Therefore, Sims can’t be looked at as the center of the future, at the current moment, because of the presence of Julius Randle.