Folks, the New York Knicks have hit the home stretch. Our beloved squad sits at an abysmal (or excellent) 13-50 with 19 games to play. They’re coming off a twenty-point loss to the Clippers. Most of us prefer watching the Kyrie and KD video than the actual Knicks when Emmanuel Mudiay is in the game. I get it, it’s been a long season. However, there is always a silver lining, and for us, it’s none other than the twenty-year-old rookie from Louisiana, Mitchell Robinson. Obviously, there’s been more than a few Robinson articles from various news outlets, but his dominance has become so pronounced that I wanted to examine his best skills, rank amongst fellow rookies, and outlook for the future.
He is Blocking Shots at an All-Time Rate
The three best shot-blockers this season in the NBA are Myles Turner (2.8 BPG), Anthony Davis (2.5 BPG) and none other than Mitchell Robinson (2.3 BPG). That’s mighty impressive for a second-round pick.
But it becomes downright ridiculous when you consider the amount of minutes the three guys have played. Turner plays 29 minutes a night, Davis plays 35, and that’s factoring in his recent stretch of sub-twenty minute nights. Robinson has played 19 minutes a game.
Robinson has blocked a total of 109 shots, in 877 total minutes. Davis has 121 swats in 1700 minutes, and Turner has 159 rejections in 1609 minutes. So in 823 less minutes, Mitch has blocked just 12 less shots than AD, and in 732 less minutes than Turner, Robinson has only 50 less blocks. Extrapolated over 823 more minutes, Robinson would have over 50 more rejections than Turner and more than 70 more blocks than Davis.
Here’s one more stat. The top-five block percentage seasons in NBA history (minimum 100 blocks) are as follows: Manute Bol (10.8), Manute Bol (10.8), Manute Bol (10.6), Manute Bol (10.6), and Mitchell Robinson (10.4). Block percentage estimates the percentage of an opponent’s’ shots a player blocks in his time on the floor (NYT).
He’s a truly elite rim protector who only has room to grow, at just twenty years old. Recently his fouls have gone down and his efficiency has ballooned.
He is an Emerging Offensive Threat
Over Mitch’s last ten games, he’s averaging 11.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game on .719 FG% and .727 FT% in just 23.5 minutes per game (and nearly four blocks a game, by the way). He has attempted just ONE shot outside the paint this season. On the surface, his offensive game looks limited.
But as the NBA begins to increasingly value rim-runners who catch lobs on one end and block shots on the other, and traditional back-to-the-basket big men are going out of style, Robinson has tangible offensive upside. I mean, look at the body control here:
Robinson is an elite “pick-and-lob” big man who has clearly started to demand attention from opposing defenses.
An Interesting Exercise
With Robinson playing out of his mind the last few weeks, I thought it would be interesting to see what a top-ten re-draft of the 2018 NBA Draft would look like. Here’s what I came up with:
- Phoenix Suns: Luka Doncic
Duh. (Phoenix messed this up bad, by the way)
2. Sacramento Kings: Jaren Jackson Jr.
I like JJJ a lot, and I think he’s shown more consistency as both a defender and shooter than Bagley.
3. Atlanta Hawks: Trae Young
Young has been unreal over the past month, and he was a great find for Atlanta.
4. Memphis Grizzlies: Marvin Bagley III
Bagley has shown flashes of being an elite player recently, and he’s no consolation prize for the Grizz.
5. Dallas Mavericks: DeAndre Ayton
I think you have to go Ayton here, but he has looked less than impressive despite excellent box score numbers.
6. Orlando Magic: Mitchell Robinson
Mitch comes in here, as a (WAY) better version than the actual pick, Mo Bamba. The Magic love length, and Mitch has that in spades.
7. Chicago Bulls: Wendell Carter Jr.
Same pick here for the Bulls; WCJ has been really good, and he and Robinson was a toss-up.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Shai has been super productive for the Clips, and he’s significantly better than the actual point guard that went here, Collin Sexton.
9. New York Knicks: Kevin Huerter
I think our Knicks would be enticed by Huerter’s shooting ability and efficiency, and he has quietly been extremely productive.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Mohamed Bamba
The 76ers would go with potential over production and grab the athletically-gifted Bamba, despite limited minutes.
So, there you have it. I think Mitch goes in the top six, despite his actual selection being pick #36. Unreal. Robinson is a truly special two-way player, and the Knicks are lucky to have him, both in the short and long term.