Julius Randle can only do so much. Isaiah Hartenstein has rebounded well but has his limitations. Taj Gibson can spot in for a few minutes, but that’s not a good long-term plan.
Back in July, the Pistons rewarded Stewart with a four-year, $64 million contract extension.
That comes with good reason, as there is a lot to like about the man they call beef stew. He is averaging a solid 10.1 points and seven rebounds this season while playing 30 minutes a game.
The 16th pick in the 2020 NBA draft can offer New York additional toughness on the interior. He plays bigger than his listed six-foot-eight height and has always been a good rebounder. In 2019-20, Stewart attended the University of Washington for one season, where he averaged 17 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks. Out of those 8.8 rebounds, 2.8 came from the offensive glass.
That’s where Stewart can fit right in with these Knicks. This season, he is averaging 1.8 offensive rebounds, but the three previous seasons have seen him average 2.3, 3.2, and 2.3. He would also help boost a Knicks team that falls outside the top 15 in defensive rebounds per game.
Isaiah Stewart is not a player who will consistently light the scoreboard up. He is still capable of scoring and has 16 games with 10+ points this season. For the role he’d play on the Knicks, this would be more than okay. It’s not like he can’t have stretches where he’s putting the ball in the hoop. The Pistons forward had 11 games with 15+ points last season.
Big-man scoring is something the Knicks have been lacking all season. Before Mitchell Robinson got hurt, he was only averaging 6.2 points. Isaiah Hartenstein is averaging 5.9 points this season.
On a team with Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and RJ Barrett, Stewart wouldn’t be the focal point of opposing teams scouting reports. This could leave Stewart open, where he has also shown an ability to knock down an outside shot.
Last season, Stewart started to incorporate more three-point attempts into his arsenal. Despite playing 402 fewer minutes in 2022-23 than in 2021-22, he attempted 159 more threes. The big man knocked down 67 of them and shot 32.7 percent. This season, he’s seen his percentage jump up to 37.4 percent on 3.5 attempts per game. He is shooting it above the league average of 36.6 percent from deep. There have been nine instances this season where he has knocked down at least two three-pointers.
Adding a player like him could make life easier for Julius Randle. Stewart can be a corner threat, and that’s where 13 of his three-pointers have come from this season. Defenses will at least have to keep an eye on him around the perimeter. This would open up the floor for everyone else. Stew has also averaged 5.4 points in the paint over his four seasons.
The former Huskie can knock down a shot and score periodically inside the arc.
Isaiah Stewart was born in Rochester, New York. He played high school basketball in the state until his junior year, when he transferred to La Lumiere in La Porte, Indiana. Stewart grew up about a six-hour drive from Madison Square Garden and his favorite player, Patrick Ewing.
“The reason I wear 33 is because of Patrick Ewing,” Stewart said back in 2020, before the NBA draft.
Patrick Ewing gave praise to Stewart before the 2020 NBA draft. Citing the forwards' hard-working toughness would be a great addition to the Knicks roster.
The Knicks were eyeing the Washington big man with the 27th pick. He would be selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 16th pick. Stewart would then be traded to the Detroit Pistons less than a week later.
That toughness that was talked about in 2020 would be helpful in New York right now.