The New York Knicks are patiently waiting for Mitchell Robinson to make a full return from a fractured foot last season. Robinson underwent two surgeries to correct fractures in his foot and hand, suffered at different points during the 2020-21 campaign. Despite his struggles, Robinson has worked diligently to improve his overall muscle mass and size this off-season, hoping for his newfound strength to translate to elevated performance on the court.
â€œI want someone to hit me in the chest,â€ Robinson told the media on Thursday.
Playing in just 31 games last year, Robinson averaged 8.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and shot 65% from the field. His small sample size doesnâ€™t entirely tell a full story of his growth over the past three years, but heâ€™s hoping to take a significant step forward this upcoming season after the team’s success under the leadership of Tom Thibodeau.
Robinson has been vocal about his increased strength, and he will have an opportunity to put it to the test on the regular season begins on October 19, which is just three weeks away.
The New York Knicks are expecting big things out of Robinson…and one of his teammates:
Another teammate who has been working this off-season diligently is second-year player Obi Toppin. Toppin struggled during his rookie season, posting just 4.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, and shooting 50% from the field over 62 games. He averaged just 11 minutes on the court at 22-years-old, one of the older rookies from the 2020 draft class. However, Toppin spent the entire summer improving, working on his shooting and isolation moves.
â€œComing in here, especially coming off last year, I knew I had to improve a lot,â€ the forward said Wednesday. â€œSo, coming in here every single day this summer, that was my motivation. Come in and just be better than what you were last year.â€
Toppinâ€™s best mode of getting on the court is by consistently hitting three-point shots and deploying solid defense. Thibodeau prefers players who can guard the perimeter and also drop into the paint to help clog driving lanes. Toppin had issues communicating and getting into the right position last season, but with a year of experience under his belt, growth is on the horizon.
Thibodeau noticed that Obi was putting in the extra effort, which is exactly what he wanted to see from the impending sophomore.
â€œFor me, itâ€™s more of watching the actions. Because oftentimes you get people who will say all the right things and do none of them,â€ Thibodeau said. â€œThe actions tell me how important it is to him and heâ€™s done all the right things. I think his actions reflect his priority. So I knew he was very committed to improve.â€
When the Knicks drafted Toppin 8th overall in 2020, they knew his work ethic was unmatched, and heâ€™s showing that desire early on in his career.