New York Knicks: The Future All-Star Frontcourt Takes Center Stage

Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez were in New Orleans as the young New York Knicks frontcourt took center stage in the Rising Stars game.

The New York Knicks are in a favorable position looking towards the team’s future and it oddly has a lot to do with Phil Jackson.

The Knicks team president nowadays is probably the least popular person next to owner James Dolan in the front office. Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez were 2015 draft picks (Hernangomez via a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers) sought out by Jackson that originally had fans questioning his judgement.

Fast forward to today and the international duo is possibly the cornerstone to the Knicks’ future success. The frontcourt was selected to the annual NBA Rising Stars game, which showcases the top first- and second-year players in the league. Rosters are separated by the player’s home country leading to both Knicks stars playing for the World team.

Hernangomez was originally not selected to the game, but was named as a replacement for Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who was unable to play due to injury.

In his last seven games, Hernangomez has averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game, creating a possible starting center controversy with injured veteran Joakim Noah.

In his second year, Porzingis is using the All-Star break to adjust his game and in his opinion play better than he has been lately. He spoke with reporters leading up to the Rising Stars game saying:

“I haven’t been consistent. I’m just trying to get back in my rhythm, trying to play the right way. Especially playing at my position, you might not get the ball a few times in a row. That happens. You have to be ready for that and you have to do whatever else you can on the floor if you’re not getting the ball.

“That’s my mentality. Until that moment comes that basically the ball goes through me every time, then I got to find ways how to be effective, getting offensive rebounds, playing hard defense, blocking shots and helping the team that way.”

Even through this process, Porzingis was very happy to see his good friend Hernangomez added to the team.

The game went as many would expect from an All-Star weekend exhibition featuring plenty of uncontested shots and highlight dunks. The World team left the game victorious 150-141 as both Knicks players provided plenty of highlights throughout the night.

Porzingis was among the team leaders with 22 points, including nine dunks, just missing out on the MVP honors going to Jamal Murray of the Nuggets.

The frontcourt tandem is enjoying the action of All-Star weekend in New Orleans with hopeful dreams of making it to the big game played on Sunday night. The showcase was important for not only the young players’ confidence, but also to repair the fractured morale and public image of the Knicks organization.

As the trade deadline quickly approaches it appears 10 time All-Star Carmelo Anthony will remain with the team. His presence will be needed as New York looks to make a push to climb into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and guide the young frontcourt moving forward.

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