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Knicks Preseason Profile: Mitchell Robinson Paints Strong Future

Mitchell Robinson has developed a reputation as one of the NBA's more reliable big men. The New York Knicks rewarded that development with a new contract.

Leave it to the New York Knicks to land into one of the NBA's most dominant players in a position slowly being rendered obsolete by the modern Association's devotion to the deep ball.

Nonetheless, Robinson has served as one of the rare consistent silver linings of the Knicks' roller-coaster endeavors, creating downright historic efforts since joining the team as a second-round choice in 2018. It's not often you'd mention Wilt Chamberlain when mentioning the new-century Knicks, but Robinson created a rare exception when broke Chamberlain's record for field goal percentage (.742) during the 2019-20 season. 

Robinson made history when the Knicks re-upped with him on a $60 million deal this offseason, becoming the first Knicks' draft pick to earn a second contract since Charlie Ward. What made him worth the commitment? 

2021-22 Season Review

Robinson waltzed past Wilt again last season, posting a success rate of .761 from the field, primarily through easy buckets below the rim. Alas, the record books won't officially recognize Robinson's effort, as he fell short of the necessary benchmark for sunk shots. 

That effort, however, was a statement for Robinson, who saw no ill effects from a hand injury that cost him a good portion of the prior season. Perhaps even more impressive was his expanded rebounding game, pulling down a career-best 8.6 per game. Robinson's 295 total offensive boards were second-best in the league, behind only the 349 Steven Adams pulled down in Memphis.

"He’s very gifted. I think he’s learned a lot over the last couple of years," head coach Tom Thibodeau said of Robinson's return to full-time action. "I think he knows his opponents a lot better and [he is] a lot stronger than he was three years ago, when he came into the league.”

Robinson continued to flex his muscles on the defensive end as well: his rejection abilities were already well-documented (his 133 were good for fourth in the NBA) and, in the advanced departments, he ranked 11th in defensive efficiency at 106.1. 

2022-23 Season Preview

With Robinson attached to so much good, why haven't the Knicks managed to make any consistent progress? Armed with 60 million motivators, Robinson seems committed to figuring that out himself. 

Robinson was the first to admit that opposing scouting reports centered upon him may be relatively brief, self-authoring it as "lob, this and that" during his first statements of the year at Knicks camp. He has seemingly let go of his obsession with wetting his career-long three-point drought, but his interior schtick will get old if he doesn't expand beyond it. 

"I don’t want to shoot too much, but definitely I gotta do something," Robinson said. "It’s year five. I gotta do something."

If all else fails, the Knicks appear to be content with at least falling back on Robinson's efforts on the glass, which they expect to be more prevalent than ever thanks to a sterling effort in the gym: Robinson has been said to be coming in at a strapping 270 lbs., up over 30 from his original listed weight upon his NBA entry. It has already made a difference if those charged with stopping him in practice are to be believed. 

"I think he’s in the best shape he’s ever been in since I’ve been here in New York,” Julius Randle said. “He’s running the floor, playing with energy. Offensive rebounding, obviously. And we’ve got to reward him. He does so many things for us, offensively and defensively without the ball, so we’ve got to keep looking for him and reward him.”

Knicks Preseason Profiles

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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