The Knicks are missing Mitchell Robinson’s physical presence

Mitchell Robinson, NY Knicks. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Robinson, NY Knicks. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /
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Knicks, Mitchell Robinson
Mitchell Robinson, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

The Knicks’ lackluster rebounding without Mitchell Robinson

Tom Thibodeau’s team has shown tremendous heart. They’ve scrapped and clawed for loose balls all season long and the level of intensity with which they play is never in question. Even still, this team struggles to get 2nd chance points.

In the 21 games the Knicks have played since Robinson went down with his foot injury, they’ve ranked 28th in the NBA in offensive rebounding. Before Robinson went down with his first injury on February 12th (27 games), New York ranked 12th in the NBA. He IS their offensive rebounding.

Taj Gibson is yet another role player who has shattered his expectations this season. Like Noel, he’s had to step up in Robinson’s absence. Even with how well Gibson has played, it isn’t always enough. Gibson will fight for boards and bring great energy, but that can only be so much. He isn’t able to get up and down the court with the same speed as Robinson or athletically keep up with some bigger centers.

We’ve seen a few different times just how badly the Knicks can get out-rebounded. Games like the last matchup with the Celtics on April 9th, where New York finished with just 5 offensive rebounds to Boston’s 16. That game was decided by 1 point. Rebounding lost them the game.

It’s an area of the game where Mitchell Robinson can maximize his physical tools. Looking at some advanced stats – prior to getting injured, Robinson was leading the entire NBA in box-outs per game. He was also 5th in the NBA in total contested rebounds per game.

He’s proven to be an excellent rebounder dating back to last year. This season, Robinson’s 3.6 offensive rebounds per game would rank 5th in the entire NBA. 

While the young Mitchell Robinson is growing and polishing his game, he’s already made some valuable improvements this season. Between his physical tools, improved conditioning, and his growing court awareness, Robinson was on the verge of having a very positive 3rd season in the league.

It’s a reminder of how recency bias can lead to certain biases. We see the Knicks winning games with Noel as the starter, suddenly the “actually we don’t need Mitch” talk gets louder.

This article was really focused on his biggest strengths – defense and rebounding. Let’s not forget that he’s turned into a pretty nice roll-man already. Not sure any big on the Knicks has bunnies like this:

Whatever the Knicks decide to do with Mitchell Robinson this offseason, it might be in their best interest to keep him around. Not only because of what he currently brings but because of how much room there still is to grow This was just his first year under Tom Thibodeau and he could continue to blossom into an important part of the team’s future.

Next. Why extending Julius Randle is an easy decision. dark