With the New York Knicks out of the running for a playoff spot, it’s time for the young guys to play more. Mitchell Robinson is a prime example. Here’s why he should start.
After a close 106-98 loss at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, the New York Knicks have a record of just 17-39 this season. With the team sitting firmly out of the playoff picture, the rest of the year should be used to play the younger guys. This starts with sophomore center Mitchell Robinson.
The former second-round pick has been a diamond in the rough, finishing second in the NBA for blocks per game as a rookie. This year, he’s taking on a larger offensive role as Robinson averages 14.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes.
Despite his promising outlook, Robinson has started in just seven of his 52 appearances this year. He should immediately become the full-time starter. Here’s why.
Taj Gibson isn’t cutting it
Journeyman big Taj Gibson has taken on the role of starting center this season, with mixed results. His solid mid-range jumper and defensive IQ are passable, but he has often gotten overwhelmed when guarding other starting centers. This isn’t Gibson’s fault, as it’s a role he’s not accustomed to.
Gibson is 6-9 and has primarily played the power forward position throughout his first 10 seasons in the NBA. Asking him to switch to center at this point in his career is a bad move. It has shown in the way he looks uncomfortable playing center.
Gibson currently has the lowest plus/minus net per 100 possessions out of all the New York Knicks consistent rotation players, sitting at a brutal -8.5. That number is also the lowest mark of his entire career.
Foul trouble shouldn’t be a roadblock anymore
Head coach Mike Miller is using Gibson to essentially block Mitchell Robinson from getting into early foul trouble. The coach does this by keeping Robinson on the bench for a few minutes to start each game before bringing him in. This strategy worked at first but is now starting to get old.
The Block Ness Monster has struggled with fouls throughout his career, and this season has been no different. However, it would be much better for the 21-year old to take his lumps against opposing starters. He has to learn their moves and tendencies instead of being given a short leash.
Fit with other starters
Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett are the Knicks’ most promising young players, and they should be given ample opportunity to establish chemistry in these last 26 games.
His high-flying dunks often pose a threat for opposing defenses, as driving lanes are usually wider due to defenders worried about a Robinson alley-oop. This has helped veterans like Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton, who attack the paint often.
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The trio of Robinson, Randle, and Payton is currently outscoring opponents by 4 points per 100 possessions in the 339 minutes that they’ve shared this season.
The New York Knicks have played their way into another disappointing season. Despite the losses mounting up, this time is valuable for younger players to get more opportunities to prove themselves. That starts with Mitchell Robinson.
What do you think about Mitchell Robinson starting for New York down the stretch? Let us know in the comments section below or on social media.