Knicks rookie-to-be backup center Willy Hernangomez (a second round pick of the Sixers in 2015) didn’t play for New York in Summer League, something that was a great learning experience for Kristaps Porzingis the summer before.
Instead, Hernangomez is in Rio playing for Spain in the Olympics.
With Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka out for Spain, it opened up a front court spot for Hernangomez. He’s taking advantage learning all he can going against polished veteran NBA big man Pau Gasol every day in practice. Hernangomez talked about it to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
“Playing in the Olympics games, it’s a big opportunity to improve and play big games and with a player like Pau,” Hernangomez said. “Practicing with him, he teaches me a couple of things, shows me some moves, little things to play better in the NBA. It’s a big opportunity for me to play against him in practice. I learned more with him in one month than in one year [in Spain].”
That’s a two-time NBA champion, six-time All-Star, and high IQ coach Hernangomez has for the summer.
Hernangomez is going to get his chances this season in New York. The Knicks will likely start Joakim Noah at the five and Porzingis at the four, but Noah is going to need nights off in an attempt to keep him healthy. Porzingis will play some five, and Hernangomez could get some run as well (he showed an improved jumper in Spain last season, but he is mostly a back-to-the-basket guy). Otherwise, Hernangomez and Kyle O'Quinn will be battling for backup minutes behind Noah.
Knicks fans will get a little preview of that from Rio.