4 Dark Horse Knicks That Can Power a Deep Postseason Run

The New York Knicks are a team everyone is watching to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. Which underrated players will they need to show up in the playoffs to make a deep bid?
 New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) celebrates with teammates
New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) celebrates with teammates / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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Mitchell Robinson 

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) and Chicago Bulls
New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) and Chicago Bulls / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

When Mitchell Robinson first went down with his ankle injury back in December, the Knicks were feeling the drop in their defensive prowess. Luckily, a few players like Isaiah Hartenstein and OG Anunoby came around to pick up the slack in his absence and the Knicks maintained one of the best defensive ratings in the NBA all season. 

Now, Robinson has made his way back to the fold and will add the same defensive reinforcements on the second unit. In recent campaigns, the seven-foot center has been atop the league in blocking metrics because he can use his size and length to get up in the shooter’s face and disturb his shot from any distance, something the Knicks miss when the starters exit the game. 

In Robinson’s six NBA seasons, he has averaged 1.9 blocked shots per game and has rallied that number as high as 2.4 in his rookie debut with the Knicks. That average is at a career-low of 1.1 due to the ankle injury he sustained early on, but he still boasts four regular seasons with over 100 blocks which he’s turned into rebounding efforts of at least 423 boards in the same span. 

Robinson’s presence will also be needed to take some minutes off of Hartenstein’s shoulders, as the fellow center has dealt with his own lingering Achilles tendinopathy that will need to be maintained to avoid missing time. The duo offer a nice one-two punch on both sides of the glass and can back one another up if foul troubles come into play in a contested series. 

In the last postseason appearances for New York, Robinson was fantastic and helped push the Knicks into the second round in 2022 after their first trip together in 2020 was ended quickly by the Atlanta Hawks. He scored 7.4 points per game as a alley oop and outback dunk menace and completely outmatched the Cavaliers duo of centers in Jared Allen and Evan Mobley in round one with 9.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. 

Most importantly, Robinson will enter the playoffs for the third time with nearly fresh legs because he couldn’t get burned out by the “grind it out” style of basketball that Tom Thibodeau puts his players through. That will be a big factor if the Knicks first round series gets extended into 5-7 games territory, when legs could get tired and the Knicks could have Robinson winning the interior battles and keeping the ball into their hands to extend big possessions. 

Playoff Mitch has already stated that he is getting into his zone and wants no distractions from anybody as round one looms. If he can become one for any team the Knicks face, they have a chance to make it far by falling back on one of their defensive backbones.

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