Give Mitchell Robinson Not Just More Minutes, But More Plays Beyond the Paint

Ryan Garcia
New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson
Dec 26, 2019; Brooklyn, New York, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) reacts during the third quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks seem to have no hope, a horrible future, a terrible owner, and even their biggest fans are losing hope. These are troubling times as a New York Knicks fan, and while I may not be the most attached to the New York Knicks, this still a New York team and it stinks to watch them in futility. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance for a turnaround, and one of those young pieces are Mitchell Robinson. The 7-foot behemoth is an offensive force in the paint and someone that can develop into a really good big with developing handles and an ability to be their dominant big in the future.

Value At Its Finest

Mitchell Robinson’s player value stats are pretty darn good, being 30th in Estimated Wins Added, 30th in Value Added, 16th in PER (Player Efficiency Rating), having 2.2 Defensive Win Shares, and a 1.8 VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). These numbers are despite only having the 147th most minutes played in 2019-2020 which is very good and despite his inability to create shots beyond the paint, (which is a product of the Knicks not having a good offensive scheme), he still is a very valuable player. He is someone that adds a huge presence to the court and his value stats tell you that he’s definitely better than just a bench player.

Stunting His Growth Beyond the Paint

The New York Knicks have to develop Robinson by opening him up to being a more versatile defender and a better spacer/shooter. He is allowing opponents to shoot 38% on him from 3, which isn’t good but that’s because the Knicks are not asking him or training him to be versatile. This could severely stunt his growth as the league isn’t about pure big men, it’s about versatility and spacing, and if the Knicks are not able to help Robinson make that transition then he will be reserved to a bench role in my opinion. It’s not like this is usual for Robinson as opponents score only 44.3% of Field Goals off of him, which is a solid number for Robinson.

Starting Robinson at Forward or Center would help him learn how to fix what is the worst AST% in the NBA as he only has a 13.3% USG rate, which is 182/193 players. Versatility is something not in Robinson’s skill set yet, and unless the Knicks play him more, it never will be.

Better Than What They Put Out There

What exactly is the improvement other than perimeter shooting (which Taj Gibson is still awful at) that Taj Gibson brings over Mitchell Robinson? How about Reggie Bullock? These are both players who play Forward positions for the Knicks, and both are significantly worse and on top of that aren’t part of the future. Mitchell Robinson has the teams highest PER by a country mile and is only 6th in minutes played?

How in God’s name will the Knicks see any improvements in Robinson if he’s getting fewer minutes than players who are significantly less valuable than him? Sure he isn’t versatile but there’s no way he can become versatile if he’s only supposed to be in the paint and never is supposed to learn how to be able to dish it out to better shooters because one, the Knicks have no reliable shooters, and two, they never want him doing those things because he’s supposed to play the 5. If the Knicks find a way to screw up the development of a 7 foot 240-pound beast then I don’t know what I’d say.

Give Robinson more minutes and let him play a Forward/Center hybrid to allow him to become a more versatile player and less of a pure big man.