Knicks fans went into the 2021 NBA draft with high hopes. Coming off of a surprise playoff appearance, there were rumors of the front office looking to move up in the draft to grab standouts like experienced two-way player Chris Duarte, New York native James Bouknight or NCAA champion Davion Mitchell. When no moves were made and the team traded down to select Quentin Grimes at 25, there was some disappointment and questions coming out of the fan base. While the front office was able to nab Miles McBride with the 36th pick, a big steal in the eyes of many, picking Jericho Sims right before draft night ended might prove to be just as big of a steal. Taken 58th, the 6-foot-10 big man out of the University of Texas boasts a leaping ability you don’t see everyday (see video below), and while he is still raw, the potential seems to be there.
Throughout his first three games, he’s averaging 9 points, 6.3 rebounds and a block in 28 minutes per game, all while missing just one shot. Still, Sims does have weaknesses he needs to improve on. He needs to polish his face-up game, he disappears on offense at times and can struggle to guard perimeter players when forced to switch. And we haven’t even gotten to the worst part. Those weaknesses are not even that glaring and should not keep Sims off the floor.
The one hole in his game that may limit his playing time is his free throw shooting. He is one of four so far in summer league and made barely over 52% over his 4 years in college. All of that being said, he does have great hands, is a strong finisher around the rim, is a very solid rebounder with a very high motor. Throughout his college career, Sims was a true workhorse doing all the dirty things. Setting hard screens, boxing out, and playing within his role, Sims may never be a star, but he seems to be one of those players every winning team needs to supplement the other guys.
Fit-wise, he’s shown some good synergy with Immanuel Quickley. Quickley often utilizes Sims’ hard and strong screens to get into the lane. From here, the second-year guard can go to the floater he loves using, or drop it off or lob to Sims for the finish. Sims also provides the Knicks with a bench big who has some offensive game, something Nerlens Noel really struggled to provide during the Knicks’ lone playoff series against the Hawks. He doesn’t necessarily space the floor for Julius Randle, but teams also shouldn’t be able to ignore him like the Hawks did Noel.
Between being a 2nd-round pick and being vertically explosive, few have made comparisons to the Knicks’ very own Mitchell Robinson. Shoot, Sims even has trouble staying out of foul trouble (4.3 fouls a game), something Robinson was known for his first two years in the league. Some have even signaled this as a sign that the Knicks are willing to move on from their starting center, but it is too early to label Sims a Robinson replacement. That is unfair to both Sims, as it places unfair expectations on him from the start, and to Robinson, who has been nothing short of great for the Knicks during his tenure. Regardless, if the former Longhorn can improve as a shot blocker, something Mitch has become one of the best in the league at, and diversify his offensive package, then the Knicks may have gotten a great value pick. The neophyte also has a couple great veteran big men in Noel and Taj Gibson to learn from as well. The Knicks have three games, and while most people’s eyes have been on Quickley and Obi Toppin, more and more people have and should pay attention to Sims as well.