New York Knicks: Do Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson need the G League?

New York Knicks Mitchell Robinson Kevin Knox (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Mitchell Robinson Kevin Knox (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale won’t send Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson to the G League, but would it be valuable experience?

Allonzo Trier has taken the New York Knicks by storm as an undrafted free agent. Before the season started, he wasn’t pegged as a piece of the future, but 23 games and 20-plus point performances later, he leads their rookie class and sits near the top of first-year NBA players.

Before Trier’s hype took off, Kevin Knox was the talk of the town. As the ninth pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, and with a First Team accolade in Summer League, he built excitement for his rookie season. Mitchell Robinson, as well, with his unique combination of size, length, and athleticism.

Six weeks into the season, albeit early, Knox and Robinson have not found the same success as Trier. Whether it’s Knox’s shooting or Robinson’s foul trouble, the transition has been bumpy.

Given their age and inexperience, it recently raised the idea of sending them to the G League. However, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, head coach David Fizdale has no interest in this:

"“I’m keeping both of them with us,’’ Fizdale said. “Through whatever tough times we go through, that’s what we have to go through with them right now. But I want them with our guys, playing with our guys, interacting with our guys, having successes and suffering with our guys.”"

Fizdale wants them to work out issues on the main roster, which makes sense. With the downward direction of this season, at 7-16, now is the time to play these kids, unlike if the Knicks were a playoff team and needed consistent contributors.

Basically, it throws Knox and Robinson into the fire to learn on the fly. Trials and tribulations have followed — especially when the latter player was starting — and will follow, so does a trip to Westchester also make sense?

New York’s draft picks are playing, but not in the starting lineup. Over the past six games, Knox has averaged 15.7 minutes and Robinson with 15.2. Minutes have varied for both players, including single-digit nights.

As a result, one night, Knox will have 11 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes. The next two games, he combines for five points on 2-for-8 shooting in 17 minutes. He also committed five fouls.

Robinson’s aforementioned foul issues have cost him on-court time. He hasn’t crossed 20 minutes in a game since Nov. 16, and has accumulated 30 fouls in the six games afterward.

In the G League, Knox and Robinson can start and play 20-plus minutes per game, pending they don’t have foul trouble. Even a one-game stint could do them, at 19 and 20-years-old respectively, wonders for confidence and experience.

This would still be their sophomore years in college, too; Robinson didn’t even play organized basketball last season. Before this campaign, he told ESPN’s Ian Begley, he “wouldn’t mind” a stint in Westchester.

Robinson never received those extra runs, and it doesn’t seem he will at this point, barring a change in Fizdale’s judgment.

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Maybe Knox and Robinson need to stay on the NBA roster and learn from the starting lineup. Maybe they need to stay on the NBA roster and learn from the bench. Maybe they need a G-League stint. There’s no book on how to coach a rookie, and given how the New York Knicks have played just 23 games, there’s ample time for these players to learn and prove Fizdale’s method correct.