More often than not, when NBA players secure a long-term contract, they tend to relax. But that is not the case for New York Knicks‘ young center Mitchell Robinson.
After signing a $60 million, four-year deal with the Knicks in the offseason, Robinson is quietly putting a career season.
His 8.8 rebounds and 4.3 offensive rebounds per game are career highs.
Since his return from a knee injury early in the season, Robinson has pulled down double-digit rebounds in 10 of 19 games, including a season-high 20 against Milwaukee Bucks’ twin towers Giannis Antetkounmpo and Brook Lopez that had coach Mike Budenholzer calling him “phenomenal.”
The 24-year-old Knicks center is coming off a back-to-back 16-rebound effort against the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks. Half of them are from the offensive glass.
Robinson is winding up the year with a monster December, leading the league in offensive rebounds (4.9) this month. Robinson has collected double-digit rebounds in eight of 13 games this month, hiking his average to 10.2 rebounds (10th-best in the NBA this December) with 8.3 points, 1.1 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.5 blocks as the Knicks went 8-5.
For the season, the former second-round pick from Chalmette High School in Louisiana is tied with Clint Capela for the second spot in the offensive rebound leaders behind Memphis’ Steven Adams (4.8).
But at the rate Robinson is playing and barring injuries, he’s on track to challenge Adams for the offensive rebounding crown this season.
On top of his elite rebounding skill, Robinson showed some signs of promise in his offensive game during the Knicks’ heartbreaking overtime loss in Dallas.
His first basket came from a behind-the-back post-move against Mavericks center Christian Wood. His only missed field goal of the night came from that same move though Wood already knew what was coming.
Robinson feasted at the dunker’s spot all night, with the Knicks guards repeatedly setting him up via their dribble attack.
If Robinson’s post-game develops, then that four-year deal that was viewed by doubters as an overpay will turn into a massive steal.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo