After a successful rookie year with the New York Knicks, Spaniard Willy Hernangomez admits that he is finding the going tough as he struggles with playing time.
The 23-year-old has slowly been dropping out of the regular rotation ever since Enes Kanter was traded to the Knicks from the Oklahoma City Thunder at the start of the season, and in New York’s last 11 games, Hernangomez has not featured in ten of them, causing concern about his future in the big apple.
The Knicks are certainly not in short supply of centers at the moment, with Hernangomez seemingly playing third string to Kanter and second in command Kyle O’Quinn.
Ever the professional, Hernangomez is adapting to the situation and working hard to impress the coaches off the court so that he is prepared for when his number is called. Even though he didn’t mention the trade deadline, Hernangomez might have one eye on February 9 when the deadline is up.
“It’s been really hard for me, I’m glad to support teammates on the bench because we’re winning now,” Hernangomez told the New York Post.
“But it’s been really hard for me. I’ve played 15 games all season. It’s hard. But I’m working hard to be ready. I don’t like my situation. When I have the chance to be on the court I’ll try to use it.’’
The Madrid native’s increased time on the New York Knicks bench is a stark contrast to last season, where he gained numerous accolades, including a place in the 2017 NBA All-Star Rising Challenge game, albeit as a replacement for the injured Emmanuel Mudiay and was named onto the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
By the season’s end, Hernangomez averaged 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds a game, clocking career-highs of 24 points in losing efforts to San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors and 16 rebounds in a win over city rivals Brooklyn Nets.
Despite sinking along the Knicks bench, Hernangomez has seen New York play decent basketball even though they have slumped during the Christmas period which saw them go from winning five of their last six games to losing their last three, including a narrow 92-87 loss in the early hours of Thursday morning to the Chicago Bulls.
So far this season, Hernangomez is averaging 5.3 points a game, shooting 57.8 percent from the field in 15 games.