The New York Knicks walked away with a resilient victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night, but without the performance of center Mitchell Robinson, the team might’ve dropped a disappointing game.
The Knicks are two games shy of breaking even on the season at .500, but a light stretch of games provides a fantastic opportunity to charge back in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks took over the 10th slot in the play-in tournament after the win against Minnesota and remain just two games behind the Philadelphia 76ers with the 6th seed.
If Tom Thibodeau’s squad can build some momentum and curate consistency, the Knicks could be back to their winning ways of 2020 in no time. However, a lot relies on Robinson, who struggled early in the year with stamina issues after adding muscle this past off-season.
The entire concept behind Robinson adding muscle mass was to provide more physicality inside, but he was running out of gas after just minutes on the floor.
“I just get tired real quick. I run for about six, seven minutes, and boom, I’m gassed,” he said on December 7th. “So it’s something I need to work on real bad.”
Since then, Mitch has taken major steps forward, playing 20+ minutes per game. In the victory over Minnesota, he recorded 14 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. His presence inside was felt by the Timberwolves, who didn’t have a single-player breach seven rebounds.
With Robinson’s resurgence, the idea of utilizing him as a trade piece might be less intriguing. Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner was a hot target just a few weeks ago during a significant losing streak for the Knicks. Robinson would’ve been a potential puzzle piece in a deal at the deadline, but Thibodeau may be falling in love with his attributes all over again.
Over the past four games, Robinson has recorded two double-digit point performances, two games with three blocks or more, and two games with 14 or more rebounds. It is clear he’s finally hitting his stride barring injury, making him an even more valuable piece at this point in the season.
If a prospective deal was on the table for a player like Turner, Robinson may hold a bit more weight. President Leon Rose would still have to give up serious capital to acquire the shooting big man.
The Knicks do have time to continue evaluating Mitch, who’s in the final year of his rookie contract. On the season, he’s averaging 7.2 points, 1.8 blocks, and 7.7 rebounds — measly production but a number that could see a turn for the better in coming days.
Ultimately, Robinson’s inconsistencies devalue him to a degree, making him one more of the moveable pieces on the team.