Why Kenny Payne is an important hire: Mitchell Robinson
While a lot of focus will be placed on Kenny Payne’s relationship with Kevin Knox, his potential influence on Mitchell Robinson might be more important.
The success in developing the Knicks’ big man will dictate how quickly Leon Rose and company are able to turn around a franchise that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since 2013.
Robinson has unlimited potential on defense, swatting away shots from both inside the paint and along the perimeter. It’s on the offensive side of the ball where he needs the most work. Despite setting a single-season record for the highest FG% this past year, Robinson remains an extremely raw player with the basketball in his hands—he can also use plenty of work without the ball in setting screens.
Payne is known as a “big man whisperer,” having great success working with both Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis while at Kentucky.
In a recent article by The Athletic (subscription required), Towns called Payne one of the key reasons behind Kentucky’s success, while highlighting his strength as a player development coach. In the same article, Davis credits Payne for developing his game in the paint.
Mitchell Robinson has been a nice success story for the Knicks amid several recent failures. He was a second round pick that has blossomed into a big man with great potential. However, he still needs to take that next step into becoming a legit NBA starter. Payne might be the perfect development coach to help him get there.