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Jericho Sims gets first start of season against Timberwolves

For Jericho Sims, an opportunity was never a given.

He shined in Summer League, he flashed enough rim-rocking potential to earn a three-year contract. But Sims is also the third center on the Knicks, a position only up for playing time if there’s an injury.

And guess what happened?

Mitchell Robinson, a taller and more experienced version of Sims, suffered a sprained knee last week and won’t be reevaluated until Saturday, at the earliest. Robinson’s sprain has been described as “mild” by coach Tom Thibodeau, but such an injury has been known to shelve players for about a month.

Sims, the 58th overall pick in 2021, received the unexpected start in Monday night’s game against the Timberwolves, his first time in the lineup this season. Sims wasn’t needed much against Boston (only three minutes) because the Celtics played small without their injured centers (Al Horford and Robert Williams).

But Minnesota is different with powerful center Karl-Anthony Towns. Rudy Gobert is also on the Timberwolves but was ruled out Monday night after entering Health and Safety Protocols.

Sims doesn’t know how this plays out.

“[Robinson’s injury] gives me a lot of time to see where I’m at in the rotation,” Sims said. “At this point, though, I don’t really know if I’m going to play heavy or light.”

Sims, to his credit, has no illusions about his limited offensive role. He plays above the rim and doesn’t dribble.

It’s comparable to Robinson but, if Sims hopes to fill that role with equal impact, he’ll need to protect the rim and clean up the glass. Hartenstein offers some of those attributes but is neither as athletic nor strong as Sims, who tied the NBA combine record with a 45.5-inch vertical.

“The most I’m going to do on offense is get downhill, look for lobs,” Sims said. “Like Mitch, you see he does a really good job picking up the offensive rebounds. That’s pretty much what I’ll be doing.”

The other option, as Thibodeau has explored recently, is to play small with Julius Randle and Obi Toppin in the frontcourt. It worked well in the victory over Philadelphia but bombed a day later versus the Celtics.

“He’ll start playing more,” Thibodeau said of Sims. “We have to be ready for that. I have a lot of confidence in him. I think he’ll do well.”

Sims is a man of few words and one opposing executive believes his awkward interviews during the predraft process might’ve contributed to him nearly falling out of the second round. But Sims’ role isn’t complicated and doesn’t require expounding. He needs to produce with what he’s given.

“When you get one or two minutes here or there, you got to go make a play,” Sims said.

RJ PAST THE SLIGHTS

RJ Barrett was dissed a season ago by Timberwolves standout Anthony Edwards, who declared himself grateful that Barrett took the last shot in their matchup.

Edwards went a bit overboard burying Barrett, saying the Timberwolves would’ve been fine if Barrett made the game-winner (he didn’t) because, “We didn’t want anyone else taking it.”

Barrett remembers the slight but is no longer dwelling on it.

“I don’t care about that s—t,” Barrett said. “It’s whatever. He said something, then it’s funny I hit a game-winner last year.”

Barrett was referring to his buzzer-beating 3-pointer to defeat the Celtics in last season’s opener. Barrett’s record against Edwards is 1-2.

“I look forward to playing against everybody,” Barrett said. “But he’s a good player. It’s going to be fun to go up against him, go up against their team. They got a good team. They’re very good offensively, so it’s going to be fun.”

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Source: Berkshire mont

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