Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson is taking his game to a whole new level

Dylan Backer
mitchell robinson, knicks
Oct 30, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro (35) defends New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) in the second quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Knicks starting center, Mitchell Robinson has made a superb impact while on the floor for the Knicks. This past offseason, Robinson signed a 4-year, $60 million contract to stay with New York long-term.

Through the team’s first six games of the season, the 5th year big man is averaging 7.3 PPG with 6.2 RPG while shooting 67.9% from the field. While his offensive statistics are not the most glaring, as well as exhibiting issues with fouls, averaging 3.7 fouls per game, he is still making a large contribution to the team’s success in many other facets.

Defense and paint protection for the Knicks:

Since Robinson’s rookie season in the NBA in 2018, he has established himself as one of the premiere shot blockers in the entire league, averaging two blocks for his career and averaging a career-high 2.5 BPG so far this season, which ranks 4th in the NBA.

Robinson’s athleticism and long wingspan (7’4″) allow him to provide elite rim protection for the Knicks. Knicks head coach, Tom Thibodeau, praised Robinson’s strong defensive effort this season.

“He’s the eyes of the defense. He’s on that back line, everything’s in front of him. His communication’s huge for us.”

Tom Thibodeau on Mitchell Robinson’s defense via New York Knicks

Rebounding

Falling back on his athleticism and long wingspan, he has utilized that, along with his height (7’0″), to snag rebounds and clean up the glass. His most notable aspect of his rebounding is his capability to snare offensive boards, as he averages four offensive rebounds per game this season, just short of a career-high. That mark also ranks tied for 4th in the NBA with his teammate, Isaiah Hartenstein.

Robinson is constantly underneath the basket looking to clean up the Knicks’ mistakes on offense, at times reaching over multiple defenders down low to secure rebounds and give the Knicks second chance opportunities. His tenacity on the glass has been a key factor into the Knicks’ improved offense so far this season.

Mitchell Robinson’s work ethic and health:

One of Robinson’s biggest stipulations to his young career has been his health, including spending most of last season hampered by a foot injury he suffered in 2020.

However, this season he appears to be in the best shape of his career, leaping high for lobs and putback dunks, viciously snagging rebounds on both ends of the floor and getting physical on the defensive end (sometimes too physical with the foul trouble he’s been in).

Nevertheless, Thibodeau has had nothing but high remarks for the young center. He credits Robinson’s strong work ethic for his growth as a player.

“He’s put a lot of work in. He gets there early. He’s staying late. He’s studying. But I think it’s all been a process for him coming into the league with no college background, and then just building and learning through his experiences.”

Tom Thibodeau on Mitchell Robinson’s work ethic via New York Post

Another testament to Robinson’s work ethic is him practicing his free throw shooting and even 3-pointers – which he does not shoot in-game – during the offseason. Despite not shooting from the charity stripe particularly well this season, shooting just 42%, he is demonstrating pure determination to get better, a very welcoming sight for the Knicks.

Robinson has also expressed how he wants to expand his offensive package this season and become a larger presence offensively than just a lob threat. He has floated the idea of working in the post more often to add versatility to his game.

“{Posting up} puts pressure on the defense. Everybody’s scouting report says, ‘lob, this and that,’ so you’ve got to add.”

Mitchell Robinson on adding post-ups to his game via SNY

Mitchell Robinson is among the plethora of Knicks players who have developed quickly over the course of the past few seasons. He is continuing to shine in many facets, showing that he earned his lucrative payday during the offseason. He will look to continue his stretch of progress on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks.

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