New York Knicks: Willy Hernangomez Is Earning The Starting Job

New York Knicks rookie Willy Hernangomez is earning the opportunity to start at center. His chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis is a primary reason why.

Willy Hernangomez is making it difficult for New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek to deny him a spot in the starting lineup. The rookie big man has been breathing life into a dormant Knicks team with his invigorating energy and mature interior game.

Following his start against the San Antonio Spurs, Hernangomez may have solidified his place in the starting lineup.

Hernangomez finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, one assist, and three steals in 29 minutes against LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs. He also made a clutch layup to help New York put away its favored opponent for a shocking 94-90 win.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Hernangomez was ecstatic to start alongside close friend Kristaps Porzingis at Madison Square Garden.

“It was great to start — in Madison Square Garden, it’s unbelievable,” Hernangomez said. “It’s always fun to play with KP and today we got a chance to play together from the beginning. KP and me know each other and trust each other. He got my back. I had his back.”

The chemistry between Hernangomez and Porzingis has become one of the few bright spots of the 2016-17 NBA regular season.

Over the course of his past 14 appearances, Hernangomez has accumulated averages of 10.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 offensive rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 21.1 minutes per game. He’s done so on a slash line of .537/.000/.758.

With that combination of production and efficiency, it’s not hard to see why Hernangomez has become one of Hornacek’s most trusted role players.

The question is: how much larger will Hernangomez’s role become?

As Joakim Noah battles injuries and inconsistency, Hernangomez has taken it upon himself to emerge as one of New York’s most valuable players. He’s galvanized the crowd with his advanced post game and brought life to his veteran teammates with his raw tenacity.

For perspective, New York currently has net ratings of +1.2 with Hernangomez on the court and -5.1 when he isn’t—the difference between winning and losing.

He may be an NBA rookie, but Willy Hernangomez is already earning his keep with the New York Knicks.

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