Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson ready for Victor Wembanyama challenge

Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks
Apr 23, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) dunks during game four of the 2023 NBA playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks will take on the San Antonio Spurs tonight and are not fearing their vaunted No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama and the one-of-a-kind game he brings to the floor.

Knicks: Robinson Experienced in Guarding 7-Foot Floor Spacers Like Wembanyama

Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News shared quotes from several Knicks players who are ready for the task against Wembanyama, including his primary defender for the night, Mitchell Robinson, who said this:

“He’s going to be on the perimeter a lot. So I’ve just got to move my feet. So just gotta get ready for that,” Robinson remarked. “I’m not really worried about the tallness, bro. Just go out there and play hard. I look forward to guarding anybody, that’s what this league is about. You’ve got guard. Good players, bad players, it is what it is.”

Robinson is a standout defender at center and excels at protecting the rim. While Wembanyama does find ways to score inside, Robinson is right in his scouting report of the young Frenchman and will have to be ready to keep up with him on the outside. Robinson is capable of moving his feet on defense, but he’ll likely need strong team defense to support him when he gets beat off the dribble.

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Wembanyama’s Trust in His Outside Game Have Been on Full Display Early

Wembanyama’s 7-4 frame makes him one of the tallest players in NBA history, but that alone is not what makes him so special. His uncanny ability to put the ball on the floor and shoot from the three-point line presents an archetype only seen in a couple of other players to ever grace the hardwood.

Wembanyama looks like a seasoned veteran through his first seven games. He’s already putting up 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds on 46.2 percent field goal shooting. His 1.7 threes are tied for second-most among starting centers. Even more impressive are his 2.6 blocks, which trail only Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis, and his 1.3 steals per game.

Isaiah Hartenstein Ready to Make Life Difficult for Wembanyama Off the Bench

The rest of the Knicks are unbothered by Wembanyama’s imposing frame and dextrous game. Isaiah Hartenstein exclaimed that he and ‘Mitch don’t back down to really anybody.’ Both, along with Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau are excited for the challenge and also happy that Wembanyama is helping further popularize the game. When they tip off against the Spurs tonight, it will be all business. So what can the Knicks do to slow the 20-year-old rookie and his teammates down?

How the Knicks Can Collectively Slow Down Wembanyama and the Spurs

Firstly, the Spurs have run the point guard position by committee for much of the early season. They bring point guard Tre Jones off the bench and have Keldon Johnson or Devin Vassell bring the ball up the floor. Pressuring the Spurs from the inbounds will allow the Knicks to flex their defensive muscle and bother the establishment of their half-court sets.

The Spurs also like to run dribble hand-offs from the wing with Wembanyama and Jeremy Sochan, attempting the second-most field goals in that area among all teams. They also look for threes in the same area off of kickouts. The Spurs have several guys that can score in a variety of ways, but denying the ball around the three-point line will help additionally disrupt their natural flow of offense.

Tip-off is slated for 7:30 pm EST. The Knicks and the Spurs can both improve to 4-4 with a win. The Knicks are aiming to be the ones to reach .500 and carry over momentum from a strong win over the Los Angeles Clippers in their last outing.