The New York Knicks are clearly confident in young center Mitchell Robinson, given the fact that they didnâ€™t utilize him as a trade piece this off-season. Preparing to earn just $1.8 million, Robinson is looking to elevate his game and win Defensive Player of the Year. Robinson stated on social media that he is bigger and stronger, and when healthy, he is one of the best defenders on the team, if not in the NBA.
As a long, lanky center who is capable of guarding the perimeter, Robinsonâ€™s defense was sorely missed during the postseason. Rolling with Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson, the team missed a physical presence inside who could also run the floor with ease in transition. Noel is a serviceable shot blocker but offers little on offense and doesnâ€™t have the frame to body out bigger scorers and box out centers like Clint Capela.
Luckily, Robinson suffered two fluke injuries, which donâ€™t suggest any ligament damage. Having fractured his hand and foot, Robinson is looking to make a full recovery and leave his mark on the 2021-22 season.
Last year, he played in just 31 games, averaging 8.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and shot 65% from the field. However, with poor point guard play the past three seasons since Robinson entered the NBA, heâ€™s been looking for a catalyst to help increase his efficiency around the rim.
During his rookie campaign, Robinson enjoyed the likes of Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke, Ron Baker, and Emmanuel Mudiay. None of these players represented a high octane PG to help him increase his efficiency in the scoring department. Fast forward to the present day, and the Knicks have Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker as their point guards.
Rose proved last season, and heâ€™s more than capable of leading an offense and elevating the players around him. He averaged 15 points, 4.2 assists, and shot nearly 49% from the field. However, with his veteran savviness and vision, Robinson should be a direct benefactor from his capabilities.
Ultimately, remaining healthy is Robinsonâ€˜s primary goal, but his offensive production shouldnâ€™t be forgotten about. He came close to averaging double-digit points in 2019, landing at 9.7. During his 31 game sample size last year, he posted a career-high 27.5 minutes per game but still fell short of the double-digit scoring mark, thanks to Elfred Payton serving as the team’s primary point guard before Tom Thibodeau forced a trade for Rose at the deadline.
Executing the pick-and-roll with Mitchell will be far different than in the past when he lacked chemistry with his point guards, and they simply couldnâ€™t execute at a high level. Both Rose and Walker are capable of elevating his game tremendously. Specifically, Rose looks to facilitate instead of force shots, which Walker can sometimes get stuck doing.
If Robinson has, in fact, increases his strength and size this off-season, he is a great breakout candidate alongside a fantastic point guard like Rose. That combination could end up being a godsend for a Knicks team that has had a disconnect at the C and PG positions over the past few seasons.