Which New York Knicks Can Succeed Julius Randle as Most Improved Player?

NY Knicks, RJ Barrett (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
NY Knicks, RJ Barrett (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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NY Knicks, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin
NY Knicks, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Obi Toppin (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Can Mitchell Robinson win the Most Improved Player Award?

Yes, I think we are definitely past the point in time where it was rational to believe Mitchell Robinson has All-Star potential.

And yes I did just get finished noting that most players who are in consideration for the Most Improved Player Award are at or near an all-star caliber level.

But, in Robinson’s case, there are several areas in which he can possibly see an upgrade, which when combined can launch him into that MIP conversation.

Here is a checklist for those improvements:

  1. Average double-digit points and rebounds
  2. Increase free throw percentage
  3. Play close to a full season and be the anchor for a top NBA defense
  4. Drop fouls per game even more so
  5. Take and make jump shots

Robinson doesn’t need to accomplish all or even most of these things, but any combination of those five goals can compile a solid argument for Robinson being in the running for MIP.

For the last few seasons, many Knicks fans have hoped to see Mitch consistently record double-double production, and for good reason.

This isn’t just an example of people overrating the value of baseline statistics.

Being able to get at least 10 points and rebounds per game at the center position is the hallmark of a top-tier big-man.

But more importantly, from a talent perspective, Robinson is more than capable of doing so.

We shouldn’t expect less from a player as efficient and as tenacious a rebounder as he can be oftentimes.

An NBA starting center should be averaging either 10 points or 10 assists, especially with the playmaking and overall talent Robinson will be playing alongside this upcoming season.

Part of that first goal becoming a reality is shooting a better free throw percentage and even utilizing a jump shot.

More free throws made equals more points scored, it’s that simple.

Robinson is a very poor free throw shooter (57% for his career), so improving that part of his game can finally get him better numbers in the scoring column.

And while having a poor free-throw shooter take jumpers doesn’t sound like a great idea, Robinson has been posting summer workout videos of himself shooting three-pointers during every offseason.

Being able to stretch the floor is a huge benefit for a center in the NBA.

Shouldn’t Robinson at least start attempting a couple of shots outside the paint? We won’t know if he can do it until it is attempted in a real game.

Lastly, Robinson has already been successful in anchoring an elite defense and improving his fouling woes, but in a somewhat limited sample size.

These accomplishments and all others won’t be relevant enough for the MIP if he isn’t on the floor. If Robinson can do any of these things and play 70 or more games for the first time in his career, he will be taken more seriously as a significant player in the league.