The New York Knicks are looking very solid to start the season off, but they might be running into their biggest test yet with the Chicago Bulls.
At 4-0, the Bulls are the big surprise of the NBA, and it’s looking like the signings of DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball have payed off for them in the short term. The Knicks will be looking to knock them off from their perfect record, but they might have to do it without the services of one of their key role players.
Nerlens Noel has missed every regular season game as result of knee and hamstring injuries. He suffered a setback in the preseason finale, so he hasn’t been available for any of the regular season action.
Coach Tom Thibodeau gave an update on him before the win over the 76ers, and it sounds like he’s getting closer and closer to a return.
Noel Injury Update
The good thing is Noel isn’t dealing with a broken foot or hand like Mitchell Robinson was, so his return to the lineup should be much quicker.
With Robinson entrenching himself as the starter to begin the season, it’s likely that Noel will slot right in as his backup. As for his return, coach Tom Thibodeau gave an update on that before Tuesday’s game.
“He’s ramped up pretty good right now,” Thibodeau said via the New York Post. “Hopefully it will be soon. It’s when he’s ready to go. So he’s been taking some contact. He’s real close.”
He’d be back already if it weren’t for the setback he suffered, but he’s getting close.
“He was almost back once and then he had some soreness,” said Thibodeau. “He had soreness in his knee [but] the hamstring is fine. And that soreness is much improved.”
This doesn’t really give a good idea of when Noel will truly be back from his injury, but it might leave the door slightly cracked for a return against the Bulls. He hasn’t been ruled out completely, so that’s a positive sign, but fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too much.
Centers Look Solid
The good thing about the Knicks is that they can weather the storm while they wait for Noel to return.
Taj Gibson, a Thibodeau favorite, has stepped in as the backup to Robinson, and he’s played pretty well so far. Something he’s even getting better at is his 3-pt shooting.
At 36-years-old, it appears that you can teach an old dog new tricks. When Noel returns, there’s no telling what Gibson’s role will become, especially with the emergence of Obi Toppin as a key role player. So far this season, the Knicks have shown they are among the deepest teams in the NBA, and if their bench can continue to remain solid, they can go a long way.
We’re still barely into the season, so a lot more can happen from this point forward, but the early returns have looked very promising for the New York Knicks and their fans.
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