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Knicks’ Kyle O’Quinn Shines in Noah’s Absence

Photo Credit: Paul J. Bereswill

Photo Credit: Paul J. Bereswill

The Knicks (10-9) defeated the Timberwolves (5-14) at Madison Square Garden in the second game of the home-and-home series Friday evening, 118-114.

The Knicks are now 7-3 in their last 10 games. Joakim Noah sat out for the second straight game due to an ankle injury he suffered against the Thunder this past Monday. It was the 4th game he missed this season.

The Knicks signed Noah this past off-season to a 4-year, $72 million deal. Knicks’ President Phil Jackson needed replace Robin Lopez who was sent to Chicago as part of the trade to bring Derrick Rose to New York.

Noah is a 2-time all-star and a former defensive player of the year in 2014. Unfortunately, he has been on the decline ever since. He had an injury prone year last season only playing in 29 games because of a left shoulder injury.

Many fans called signing an injury prone, 31-year old to a four year deal a bad move. Jackson brought him in to be a rim protector and be the voice of the defense. They also brought him in for his veteran leadership in the locker room, which the Knicks have lacked these past couple years. Noah has had a few good moments so far this year but overall, he has not been that impressive.

The Knicks acquired Kyle O’Quinn from the Orlando Magic by trade last off-season. In his first year with the Knicks, he struggled. He struggled to get consistent minutes over Kevin Seraphin and just looked lost always getting into foul trouble.  This year, he looks like he will be getting consistent minutes coming off the bench.

O’Quinn came in to this season having lost weight, looking like he is in the best shape he has been in his career. On Friday night, he got his 4th start of the season. This was the best game he has had in a Knicks uniform. He finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. More importantly, he helped keep Karl-Anthony Towns to only 20 points for the game after have a monster game on Wednesday with 47 points. Towns struggled all game and was held scoreless in the first quarter.

The Knicks are 4-0 in games where O’Quinn is in the starting lineup. In all of those games, Noah was out with an injury. Hopefully O’Quinn’s good play will help light a fire under Noah to play better, or at least more consistently. There are a lot of similarities between O’Quinn and Noah. They both play with a lot of energy and play very physical on the defensive end, grabbing rebounds and going for loose balls. They also both are great passers. The biggest difference between them is offensively. O’Quinn has a nice mid-range shot, has good hands and can finish around the basket. Noah has probably the ugliest shot in the NBA and can’t finish around the hoop. Whenever Noah touches the ball, his defender basically leaves him wide open to double Porzingis.

So should the Knicks bench Noah in favor for O’Quinn?

I personally don’t think they should. I think the quick knee jerk reaction is to bench him. O’Quinn had probably one of his best games in his young career. He is only 26-years old. But at the end of the day, Noah is a veteran with a proven track record. It’s tough to judge him because of the fact the he has not been 100% healthy yet this season. He is only 2 years removed from when he was an all-star and won the defensive player of the year. So I am not going to give up on Noah just yet because he just brings so much energy and ferocity to this Knicks team. Hopefully he gets healthy soon to show how much he can help this team.

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