The New York Knicks do not employ Marc Gasol or Pau Gasol, but they have the next best thing: A 23-year-old big who spent the summer learning from both Gasol brothers.
From Newsday’s Al Iannazzone:
Playing for Spain in the European Championships, Hernangomez practiced with Pau and Marc Gasol every day. The Gasol brothers have nine All-Star appearances between them. They helped get Hernangomez prepared for his second NBA season, when he’s expected to play a larger role for the Knicks, who faced the Nets in a preseason game Sunday night.
“Being in EuroBasket, being with the Gasol brothers every day, I think is something special,” said Hernangomez, who started and led the Knicks with 17 points and 12 rebounds in a 117-83 loss at Barclays Center. “I think I’m really a more complete player right now. So I feel like Gasol brothers, helped me a lot. They gave me great advice.”
“They told me a couple tricks,” Hernangomez said. “How to read the defense, tricks on how to be more focused during the game, before a game, so I can be more ready.
Sign me up for this.
Hernangomez drew very early, very raw comparisons to Marc Gasol when he first started proving his mettle with the Knicks. Those correlations are overblown no matter how you spin them, but Hernangomez has a similar body type to the younger Gasol brother. They’re nimble-footed and nifty passers, and Gasol, to his immense credit, has figured out how to play lockdown defense despite the absence of explosive lateral gait.
It just so happens Hernangomez needs to improve most in that area. The Knicks have a surfeit of bigs on their roster, and though he should be given top priority, just behind Kristaps Porzingis, he’ll need to, at the very least, up his game as a pick-and-roll and post defender to justify staying on the floor.
Sure, he’s a fantastic passer and decent scorer with disarming range. But the Knicks have plenty of scorers. They need gutsy defense. So, for Hernangomez’s sake, hopefully defensive reads were among the “tricks” he gleaned from Marc Gasol.