“Knicks fan” Stephen A. had this to say when discussing New York’s big man depth:
Can we stop letting this man get away with calling himself a Knicks fan! He clearly doesn’t care for the players on this team. He is more concerned with his outdated takes on the Knicks rather than updating his stance. Be honest about your issues with “this” team! pic.twitter.com/HbN2x3MxHT— Lee (@knickstake113) December 26, 2023
Look, I get it. Isaiah Hartenstein is not a big name by any means, but the comment was still off-putting.
What I love about this “some dude named Hartenstein” character is how hard he plays the game.
All of that was on display Wednesday night in the Knicks' win over the Chicago Bulls.
Isaiah Hartenstein finished Wednesday night’s game with ten points, 20 rebounds, and five blocks in 37 minutes. The 20 rebounds total were a career-high. His 13 defensive rebounds set a new career best, and it was the fifth time in his career he’s had at least seven offensive rebounds in a game.
This was the third time in his career he’s had five blocks in a game.
He finished the game with a whopping +32, which was second only to his new teammate, OG Anunoby, who was a +35.
Hartenstein opened up Wednesday night’s game by protecting the rim:
Isaiah Hartenstein opens up tonight's ABC action with some defense! pic.twitter.com/vHgOa1718N— NBA (@NBA) January 4, 2024
This set the tone for the impact the Knicks starting center would have in the contest.
He was a monster on the rebounds, protected the rim, and even hit a few timely baskets to help the Knicks pull away. In the second half, the Knicks center had nine points, ten rebounds, and three blocks.
Hartenstein came into this game off of a great performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves on New Year's Day. The seven-foot German racked up seven points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals, and three blocks in 39 minutes of action. He was also a +10.
That dude whose name was escaping Mr. Smith's mouth had one of the best blocks of the season in the Minnesota victory:
Absolutely nasty block by Isaiah Hartenstein on Rudy Gobert— Tim Dunkman (@TimDunkman) January 1, 2024
Hartenstein has looked great in the two games since New York acquired OG Anunoby. Anunoby is so good defensively that it has helped lift the whole team. With OG’s ability to guard one-on-one, his teammates can focus on their assignments. I believe this has given a player like Hartenstein more defensive freedom to stay home and defend the rim.
In their two games with Anunoby, the Knicks’ defensive rating has been 107.9. In 14 December games, New York’s defensive rating was 123.6, which was the worst in the NBA.
I like to think this is sustainable and would be disappointed to not see the Knicks in at least the top eight in defensive rating at the end of January.
Whether you think he’s an integral piece or not, the Knicks center will continue to do his thing and play hard. He’s starting to look more comfortable in an increased role and should have a big year ahead.
I sure am glad “some dude named Hartenstein” is wearing a jersey that says New York across the front.