New York Knicks: Opportunity Knocks For Maurice Daly Ndour

The injury suffered by New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas has created an opportunity for Maurice Daly Ndour to break out and earn a prominent role.

The New York Knicks suffered yet another setback on Sunday, Jan. 15. Losing 116-101 to the Toronto Raptors was tough to stomach, but the biggest loss of the day came in the form of an injury.

Though losing a key player to an injury is never an ideal turn of events, it may be a blessing in disguise for Maurice Daly Ndour.

Just two minutes into the clash with the Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas caught hybrid forward Lance Thomas with an inadvertent elbow. Thomas immediately left the game and didn’t return.

It’s since been reported that Thomas suffered an orbital fracture and is experiencing concussion-like symptoms.

The injury doesn’t project to threaten Thomas’ season, but it could keep him sidelined for a reasonable number of games.

The injury to Thomas will force Jeff Hornacek’s hand and require a change to be made in the rotation. Thomas has been starting at power forward in the place of Kristaps Porzingis, who’s battling a sore right achilles tendon.

With Thomas out, Hornacek will be required to restructure his rotations.

It’s Ndour who could make the most of this tremendous opportunity.

Thomas was re-signed by the Knicks with the hope that he’d become a true 3-and-D player at the forward positions. He’s excelled as a shooter with a mark of 42.9 percent from beyond the arc and has been tasked with defending scorers at multiple positions.

Though his shooting range isn’t close to comparable, Ndour could be the defensive ace whom the Knicks have been searching for.

Phil Jackson signed Ndour to a two-year deal worth just under $1.5 million during the summer of 2016. It was a move that followed his breakout performance at the 2015 Summer League and displayed a commitment to the future.

The question is: has Westchester Knicks head coach Mike Miller done enough to prepare Ndour to make an immediate impact?

Ndour has been gaining invaluable experience with the Knicks’ D-League affiliate in Westchester. The fact that New York has sent him to White Plains for multiple assignments is a sign that it has a sincere interest in his development.

The most intriguing aspect of Ndour’s tantalizing upside is the potential for exquisite play on the defensive end of the floor.

Ndour is a 6’9″ hybrid forward with a massive 7’4″ wingspan and a 9’1″ standing reach. He’s an explosive athlete with the ability to play above the rim, run the floor, and switch on the pick and roll defensively.

A solid shot-blocker who’s active in the passing lanes and aggressive on the boards, Ndour has the raw potential to be a force on defense.

For a Knicks team that ranks near the bottom of the league in points allowed per game and points allowed per 100 possessions, Ndour could be a revelation. It may still be too soon for him to play big minutes, but he brings aggressiveness and athleticism to the floor.

Ndour may not become a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but New York is in desperate need of players who can make opponents pay for weak attempts at the rim.

On the offensive end of the floor, Ndour can run the floor, work the pick and roll, and convert from midrange. It would behoove him to expand his range to beyond the arc, but he can find ways to contribute if given extended run.

Whether or not he’s ready to fill Thomas’ average of roughly 18 minutes played per game, this is the perfect opportunity for the Knicks to explore Ndour’s potential.

Opportunity is knocking for Maurice Daly Ndour to earn a consistent role in Jeff Hornacek’s rotation.

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