Mitchell Robinson played exclusively inside the paint for the New York Knicks. Is stretching his offensive game necessary for him to be successful?
Mitchell Robinson is the brightest spot on the 2019-20 New York Knicks roster. He is already one of the best shot blockers in the NBA and one of the most exciting players to watch, with his ability to rise on lobs and to block three-point shots, which he led the league in and had more himself than half of the 30 teams.
In Robinson’s second year, he will be one of the young stars the Knicks fans will be watching closely. His rebounding, defending and his ability to finish around the rim will keep improving as he plays more games. Does he need to add to that? Maybe a perimeter game, like a three-point shot? Is it necessary?
As a rookie, the seven-footer averaged 7.3 points on 69.4 percent shooting, nearly half of his attempts were dunks, which is the reason his shooting percentage was so high. Being able to dunk will get stale if he cannot add to his game. Look at JaVale McGee and how many teams he has played for.
Teams will adjust to Robinson in his second year. They won’t just let him dunk the ball, but push him out further or foul him. He needs to add to his game to counter some of that. How much depends on how well the rest of his game develops. Last year Robinson was ranked 46th best defensive center according to ESPN’s RPM, that, of course, is probably because his blocks did not lead to as many stops as you would think.
However, according to BPM, which is plus-minus on and off the court, he was at 6.3, the third-best mark ever by a rookie. Only Jordan, Adams and David Robinson had a better number in their rookie year. Robinson was also the best defender in the NBA, as the Knicks gave up 5.7 fewer points with him than without, which led the league.
The numbers show that Robinson impacts the game without scoring, but does his lack of a perimeter game hurt the Knicks offense? Right now, it might because they lack natural shooters on the court. Dennis Smith Jr., RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox are part of that core, not one of them is an elite three-point shooter. Also, add with the way game has changed and how important shooting threes are and that has hurt the traditional big men.
On the other hand, a player like Rudy Gobert is perfect for Robinson to mimic. He has no perimeter game, but has quietly become a better player around the rim and is one of the best defenders in the league. In a league with threes and layups being emphasized, his ability to limit good looks in the paint only helped the Jazz to be a very good playoff team.
Robinson does not need a jump shot to be successful player, but he still needs to be more comfortable with making the five-foot hooks, some ability to score in the post and most of all become more consistent at the free throw line. 60 percent will not cut it. Look at players like Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard; they were are all out of the games in big moments because they could not make free throws.
Robinson, at only 21, is just starting his second year has a lot of promise, and the New York Knick fans cannot wait to watch him this upcoming season.