One of the major contributors to the New York Knicks‘ surprising 12-15 start has been defensive centerpiece, Mitchell Robinson. Unfortunately, Robinson fractured his hand in Friday’s 109-91 victory over the Washington Wizards and will miss four to six weeks. Robinson shoots 66% from the field while averaging over a block and a steal per game, meaning other bigs have a major gap to fill.
The person who instantly has more pressure to succeed is Julius Randle. Averaging 37 minutes a game, the most on the team, Randle needs to provide the presence Robinson gives on the floor. That is, grabbing offensive rebounds, blocking shots, and clogging passing lanes.
Additionally, Nerleans Noel will have an expanded role during Robinson’s absence, and will likely be the one to take his place in the starting lineup. In 22 games, Noel averages two blocks and a steal per game. He doesn’t have much of an offensive game, averaging 3.5 ppg, but can grab offensive rebounds and dunk much like Robinson.
Obi Toppin should also get extended minutes in some games, getting the opportunity he’s wanted all season. Although he likely won’t start, his playing time should greatly increase, and he should get more touches. Toppin averages 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in just 12 minutes and can provide an offensive spark that Noel can’t necessarily give.
And finally, there’s Taj Gibson. In five games with limited minutes, Gibson’s averaged 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds. Gibson will likely get the least playing time of the four, but should still see the floor.
Although it hurts the Knicks now, Robinson’s absence could actually benefit the team down the road. Obi Toppin could have the chance to finally shine, while veterans can show what they bring to the table. Between the Knicks’ four other bigs, hopefully, they can fill the void that Robinson leaves and continue to win games.