Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson gearing up for return

NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks haven’t had many positive injury updates lately, but they received one Tuesday regarding the status of center Mitchell Robinson, who has been out since December after undergoing ankle surgery.

According to the New York Post, head coach Tom Thibodeau said that the seven-footer could begin on-court activity soon after the All-Star break, adding that he and the team are “pleased” with Robinson’s rehab progression.

Robinson was having his best season prior to suffering the injury on Dec. 8 against the Boston Celtics, averaging career highs in total rebounds (10.3), offensive rebounds (5.3), steals (1.5) and is also averaging 1.3 blocks, a pace that had him on an All-Defense trajectory.

The Knicks will gladly welcome Mitchell Robinson back

The Knicks would be eager to welcome back Robinson’s presence, as the team is dealing with a myriad of injuries currently, including injuries to All-Star Julius Randle and OG Anunoby. There was a point in time where it appeared that Robinson was going to miss the rest of the season after the Knicks applied for a Disabled Player Exception which was later denied by the NBA, so his fast recovery is all but remarkable.

One thing fans will be curious to know is if Robinson will immediately assume his starting spot upon his return, or if the Knicks will continue to start Isaiah Hartenstein given how well he has played this season.

Isaiah Hartenstein has been a force in Robinson’s absence

Hartenstein has filled in his role nicely, averaging 11.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.5 blocks since Robinson went down. They have also gotten some solid play out of Precious Achiuwa, one of their recent trade acquisitions in the Anunoby deal, fortifying their center depth for when Robinson returns.

When Hartenstein is on the floor with the starters, the offense looks more fluid and well-rounded thanks in part to his ability to space the floor at the center position.

What deters Robinson from being able to do the same is his limited skillset offensively, as the majority of his game is centered around playing almost strictly underneath the basket, though he is seen as the team’s defensive anchor.

Nevertheless, getting Robinson back in games will be a huge addition for the Knicks and will make an already impressive-looking team even stronger. Until he gets cleared to return to on-court activities, an exact timeline for his return is unclear, but chances are in the Knicks’ favor that they will get a valuable piece back this season.

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