Following an eye-popping rookie season in which Mitchell Robinson made the All-Rookie 2nd Team despite being a first-round pick, many were excited to see what was next for the New York Knicks center. After less than 15 games into his second year, and the improvement is already visible.
The 21-year old is currently averaging 10.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in just over 18 minutes of action each night. Considering he has missed four matchups for the New York Knicks this season primarily due to nagging ankle injuries, it’s scary to imagine Mitchell Robinson when he’s fully healthy. Here’s how he’s gotten off to his hot start.
The former 36th overall draft pick has a limited range, but that hasn’t stopped him from using his size and athleticism to his advantage. Robinson currently leads the NBA in field goal percentage at 71%, living above the rim while throwing down alley-oops and put-back dunks.
This efficient offense, combined with his imposing defense, has shown up in advanced metrics, as the springy center currently ranks within the top 5 players in PER.
Robinson has also carried over his solid free throw shooting that he displayed towards the end of last year as he’s now up to 73.1% from the line, up from 60% in his inaugural season. With the Knicks sitting dead last in team free throw percentage, it’s good to see that it hasn’t affected the budding shot-blocker.
Improved discipline regarding fouls…
A knock on Mitchell Robinson is his tendency to commit unnecessary penalties, as his career mark of 5.8 fouls per-36 minutes is certainly less than ideal. He can sometimes get into foul trouble early, lessening his impact on the rest of the game. However, he’s taking baby steps towards paint discipline.
Robinson has committed three or fewer fouls in four of his games this season. This is highlighted by his 17-point, 12-rebound effort against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night in which he accumulated 0 fouls, the first time that’s happened in his young career.
…While remaining a defensive monster
Robinson currently ranks 7th in the league in blocks per game and 13th in total blocks, already proving that his defensive prowess of 2018 was no fluke. He’s modeling his game after former mentor DeAndre Jordan.
In a league where players are often trying to play outside of their skillset to fit the “modern NBA,” it’s refreshing to see Mitchell Robinson sticking to his bread and butter. He may experiment with shot-creation in the future; he’s only in year two, after all. For now, he’ll stick to finishing ridiculous slam dunks.
Head coach David Fizdale has had his hands full managing this team full of “dogs” early in the season. In regards to Mitch, it’s time for Fizdale to loosen the leash.