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The Knicks' weak spot going into the 2018-19 season is clearly at power forward. With Kristaps Porzingis expected to miss at least half of the season with no timetable exactly set for his return, that leaves this team with a void. Signing Noah Vonleh makes perfect sense considering their lack of depth at the 4.
Either Mario Hezonja or Lance Thomas are expected to be the starting power forward on Day 1, which is not ideal. Both are 6-foot8 and will give the Knicks fits against bigger teams -- and most teams. Both are more small forwards than they are power forwards. Until Porzingis returns, expect Vonleh to have a pretty big role on this team. There's a good chance he plays around 20 minutes a night with a chance to earn a starting spot with a strong preseason.
Vonleh being in New York won't have any effect on Mitchell Robinson's development. First off, Vonleh is only signed for one year, so there's a decent chance he isn't part of their future plans. Secondly, Robinson is going to be a bit of a project. There's a chance he doesn't make the roster and starts the season in the G League. He hasn't played in game action for a while and it's going to take him some seasoning to be NBA game ready. Finally, Robinson is strictly a center. He's 7-foot-1 and is a different player from Vonleh. This signing is not in all related to Robinson and his growth.
Vonleh has four seasons in the NBA under his belt with three different teams and is just 22 years old. The Hornets' No. 9 pick in 2014, Vonleh is young, athletic and can stretch the floor. He has plenty of room to grow as a player after being compared to Chris Bosh when he was drafted. Vonleh has a smooth stroke for a big man and can shoot the 3-pointer. He shot 33 percent from downtown last season, which isn't terrible for a player of his stature. Last year, per 36 minutes, Vonleh averaged 13 points and 13 rebounds per game.
On a one-year deal, it's a very low-risk, potential high-reward signing for the Knicks in a season that is pretty much a wash for this team. They likely aren't making the playoffs this season without Porzingis for most of it. They get a chance to see what they got in their young players, and Vonleh may or may not be someone they look to bring back after the season. He also adds yet another former top-10 pick to the Knicks roster, joining Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke, Emmanuel Mudiay, Porzingis and Enes Kanter. Look for Vonleh to get a chance to prove himself on a big state in New York this season.