Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau praises Mitchell Robinson for incredible defense

mitchell robinson, knicks

The New York Knicks have done a fantastic job on defense to start the season, but there is still plenty of room left to grow. After stifling the Chicago Bulls on Thursday evening, the Knicks will look ahead to the New Orleans Pelicans as their next opponent on Saturday night.

The team expects to return center Nerlens Noel soon, after extending him on a three-year, $27 million deal this past off-season. Noel lead the charge as the team’s primary starter at the spot during the 2020–21 season, but due to knee soreness, Tom Thibodeau has relied on Mitchell Robinson.

The Knicks were hoping they could ease Robinson into the season after rehabilitating from a fractured foot suffered last year. With unresolved stamina, Robinson has put his best foot forward, averaging 30.8 minutes per game, a career-high up to this point.

“I think Mitch is working through his conditioning but he has such a great impact on the game,’’ Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s impossible to score over.’’

As Thibodeau mentioned, scoring over Robinson is virtually impossible given his massive 7-foot frame and additional muscle mass.

Despite Noel making a return, Thibodeau is confident that Robinson will continue to play more minutes and garner more attention.

“Mitch, he’s gonna play more and more as we go, and that’s the great value in the team,’’ Thibodeau said. “When we sub, there’s not a drop off. And so whoever is going good, some nights one guy will play a little more and the other guy a little less. We have elite rim protectors.’’

Through five games, Robinson is averaging 8.6 points, 1.4 blocks, 0.6 steals, and a career-high 9.6 rebounds. His dominance on the boards has been apparent, collecting 17 rebounds in the opener against the Boston Celtics. While his rebound numbers have dropped a bit the past two games, they’re favored Julius Randle instead. He’s also collected five blocks in his past three games, showcasing his adaptation after missing the majority of last year.

The confidence Thibodeau has portrayed goes a long way, and if Mitch continues to improve his defense while adding a bit more offensive production, there is little doubt the Knicks will offer him a nice extension come next off-season.

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