New York Knicks: Stacking Mitchell Robinson against division-rival centers

Mitchell Robinson of the New York Knicks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Mitchell Robinson of the New York Knicks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

How does the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson stack up against potential starting centers in the Atlantic Division?

Mitchell Robinson is back for his second NBA season with the New York Knicks. His role will seemingly expand into a full-time starting spot, after a promising rookie year of 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 66 games, finishing the season ahead of DeAndre Jordan.

Entering Year Two, Robinson will face tests more consistently, especially in the Atlantic Division. Veterans centers are spread across the division, including two familiar faces that worked in front of him last season.

These players will be seen four times each, so let’s look at how the 2018 second-round pick stacks against them:

Enes Kanter, Boston Celtics

The Celtics replaced Al Horford with Enes Kanter, who Knicks fans will remember for his outspokenness over not starting games last season.

The Turkish big man is a terrific offensive rebounder and works hard to tip in the basketball around the rim. Outside of that, he is a defensive liability, often failing to the pick and roll. If the Knicks try that with Dennis Smith Jr. or Elfrid Payton and Robinson, expect more than one alley-oop per matchup.

Kanter had the stronger frame last year, but using the offseason to bulk up could help Robinson battle under the rim and make this a competitive head-to-head. Expect plenty of rebounds from both players along with the Knicks’ center blocking a shot or two.

Marc Gasol, Toronto Raptors

Marc Gasol is one of the top holdovers from the Toronto Raptors’ championship team. 11 years in, he is no longer dominant, but effective passing the ball, defending and making shots when needed. This is someone who could give Robinson issues throughout the season, unless athleticism factors in and swings this matchup towards the younger player of the two.

DeAndre Jordan/Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn Nets

DeAndre Jordan left the Knicks to join his buddies, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, in Brooklyn, giving them a veteran center who knows Robinson well; they worked together after the midseason trade, acting as the one-two combination on the depth chart.

That relationship can work in Jordan’s favor, but he is no longer the athletic, rim-running center of the “Lob City” years. If time continues to pass him, this matchup can work in Robinson’s favor.

There is another center, though, in Jarrett Allen, who, surprisingly, has to compete for minutes. He is a talented big man capable of blocking shots, leading to 10.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. How the role sharing plays out remains unknown, but at this stage of their respective careers, Allen is more intriguing than Jordan.

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Perhaps the NBA’s most talented center, Joel Embiid is a handful for anyone to face. His ability to impact the game from any part of the floor can lead a team to victory alone, with the skill level to post a game of 30-plus points and 15-plus rebounds if needed.

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Robinson, like Embiid, is a proficient shot blocker, but they are not on-par entering 2019-20. It could create one-sided matchups in favor of Philadelphia’s center, making their four matchups ones to not anticipate this season for the New York Knicks.