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Getting to know Norvel Pelle, the Knicks’ newest 10-day contract folk hero

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The Knicks signed Norvel Pelle to a 10-day contract on April 2.

Sacramento Kings v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

With two open roster spots entering April, it was expected the New York Knicks would use one of those spots on a big man following the injury of Mitchell Robinson. The Knicks will likely be without Robinson for the remainder of the season following surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

With the need for a big man, the Knicks signed Norvel Pelle to a 10-day contract, according to Shams Charania of the The Athletic and Stadium.

The big man became something of a folk hero in garbage time of the Knicks’ 125-81 win over the Detroit Pistons by blocking two shots with a dislocated finger. Veteran Reggie Bullock called Pelle “a Knicks type of player.”

Pelle has played in the G League with the Delaware Blue Coats and Canton Charge, Philadelphia and Cleveland’s affiliate, and played professionally in Lebanon, Italy and Taiwan in his seven-year career. He averaged 8.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in 86 games in the NBAGL.

He signed a two-way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers on July 2, 2019 and inked a standard NBA contract seven months later. Pelle brings experience, as he has 29 total NBA games under his belt, and big man depth for the New York Knicks.

Offense

Pelle isn’t known for his offense, but he did average at least 10 points per game in his last three seasons in the G League. Most of his offense comes at the rim in pick-and-roll action and off lobs while playing alongside solid ball handlers. On the offensive end, Pelle has shown to be a good roll man where he finishes with dunks and can score on put back attempts.

In the past three seasons in the G League, most of his offense was within five feet of the basket.

2018-19: 223 of 239 attempts (36 games)
2019-20: 59 of 71 attempts (8 games)
2020-21: 17 of 20 attempts (3 games)

Defense and Shot Blocking

Norvel Pelle’s calling card in his professional career has been his defense. He made huge strides during the 2018-19 season and added several accolades to his resume. Pelle was named to the NBA G League All-Defensive Team and finished in third in G League Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player voting.

In his time in the G League, Pelle has used his defense to help create offense and has been a presence down low. The 6’10” big man is able to block shots and is able to keep the ball inbounds, which can benefit on the offensive end. He is a shot blocking machine (2.3 blocks in 86 games) and uses his great timing and anticipation to swat shots. The veteran center shows great effort on defense where he stays with the play and has shown to reject multiple shots on one possession.

Norvel Pelle has made an impact in his career with his defense, which is something that will impress Tom Thibodeau. He was added to the team for big man depth and could make an impression if he sees action on the court. If Pelle continues to showcase his defensive presence and grit, he could return to the New York Knicks on a second 10-day contract.