Knicks: Nerlens Noel signing should help Mitchell Robinson shine

NY Knicks, Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Knicks, Mitchell Robinson, Nerlens Noel (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks signed defensive center, Nerlens Noel, to a one year deal, which should help Mitchell Robinson.

While free agency turned out to be quite slow for the New York Knicks, the franchise did pick up a solid rotational player in Nerlens Noel.

Noel, who had played for the Oklahoma City Thunder for the last two seasons, was a key contributor coming off the bench, backing up Steven Adams. In the 61 games Noel played last season, he averaged 7.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game, with his playing time being 18.5 minutes per game.

This signing is also interesting because Noel, who is 26, played at the University of Kentucky his freshmen year, which is where current Knicks assistant coach, Kenny Payne, was an assistant under John Calipari. Payne has been heavily credited for the development of all Kentucky players, especially the big men.

Noel was the best collegiate center and one of the top prospects at the time, but suffered a torn ACL, which cause a bit of a decline in his athleticism. He was drafted 6th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Noel has managed to have a productive NBA career so far. With career averages of 8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game, Noel serves as defensive presence with his shot-blocking ability and also as another lob-threat on the other end.

With Noel now here, this can only mean that Mitchell Robinson will finally be put in as the starting center.

The new regime seems to be very confident with Robinson as a building block, along with RJ Barrett, and newest draftee Obi Toppin.

Robinson has been coming off the bench for majority of his first two seasons. In the 127 games he’s played, he has only started 26 of them. While some will say that coming off the bench was good for Robinson, as he had a bad habit of committing too many fouls and has raw talent, others believe that Robinson’s potential was too high to be coming off the bench, especially last season.

But with two years of NBA experience now under his belt, Robinson should now be more comfortable and polished as an NBA starter. And since Tom Thibodeau is now here as the head coach, it will be very interesting to see Robinson’s impact on the defensive end.

Thibodeau, who is known as a defensive-minded coach, should have fun utilizing Robinson, who has the length and athleticism to be versatile on both ends of the court. Thibodeau turned Joakim Noah, who isn’t the most athletic player, but had the tools and the motor, into one of the best defensive players at that time, winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.

Robinson has so much potential, and still hasn’t really scratched that surface the fanbase knows he can reach. If Thibodeau can bring out that extra edge from Robinson, it will only benefit the team tremendously.

Games against the Blazers and Bulls at home last season are examples how dangerous Robinson can become in the future. Passing Wilt Chamberlain for highest field-goal percentage in NBA history isn’t something to just look past.

With a brand new coaching staff that is known for development, bringing in coaches like Kenny Payne, Johnnie Bryant, and Mike Woodson wasn’t by random selection. It’s about taking that next pivotal step forward for the young players.

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It should be fun to see how Robinson performs this upcoming season, which is now a month away.