New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson poised for a breakout second year

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Mitchell Robinson is in for greater things with the New York Knicks in his second season.

The New York Knicks summer may have not gone as planned, but Mitchell Robinson, one of the returning pieces looks like a star in the making. After having a strong second half to the season in 2018-19, he continued his great play into the summer league, earning a spot on the summer league first team.

Robinson showed off his great athleticism snatching rebounds, attempting highlight dunks and blocking three-point shots in the summer league, while even holding his own against Zion Williamson.

With these flashes and the expected step forward, the 21-year-old big man looks poised to have a breakout season.

Robinson finished with 13.8 points 10.6 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in summer league. He also only missed five shots in five games, shooting 29-for-34 from the field. Of course, almost all the shots were in the paint, we did not see him explore out to the three-point, as he promised, but still, it is impressive to make that many shots.

Robinson clearly understands his strengths. He is the guy who can clean up the glass on both ends, be an intimidator on defense and provide an option on pick-and-rolls as a finisher around the rim. Expect him to keep growing as he gets more comfortable with his game, while only in his early 20s.

This will be Robinson’s first time, potentially having the starting gig to himself, and he should flourish, which will amplify his numbers this year. As a rookie, he averaged 7.3 points and 6.4 rebounds, and those numbers could easily double this year to roughly 15 points and 11.5 rebounds — a huge year for most centers.

Just by comparison, Clint Capela averaged 16.6 points and 12.7 rebounds last year and he is 25, Robinson has a chance to match those numbers in only his second year. Their games are very similar, but Robinson is more athletic and provides a legit shot blocker, while Capela has experience and plays with better playmaker in James Harden.

There are a few things that could hinder a breakout season. One is the free throw line, where Robinson shot 61 percent in summer league. He needs to improve closer to the high 60s, like 68-69 percent, so that he can least punish defenses that will foul him.

The second is foul trouble, as Robinson struggled with it as a rookie, leaving his feet on pump fakes and trying to block everything. It created too much contact.

New York’s rotation is the last potential roadblock. The team signed Bobby Portis, Julius Randle, Taj Gibson and Marcus Morris to fill the frontcourt, and all could steal minutes. What head coach David Fizdale’s gameplan is remains unknown, but will they just let Robinson get his minutes and let the others fight it out at power forward, or will it be a fluid situation and whoever is playing best will get more minutes? The latter hurts Robinson’s growth.

The future of the New York Knicks is centered around three young players in Kevin Knox, RJ Barrett and Robinson. The first two still need time to grow, while Robinson looks ready to become a star at center.

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If the minutes are there Robinson could have a breakout season, with a ceiling of making the All-Star team. He already received an invite to the Team USA select team, which shows the rest of the NBA sees the potentials he has. All of this makes it plausible that Robinson is ready to take the next step, and his second year is going to be a fun one to watch.