Last March after Mitchell Robinson went down with a fractured foot against the Milwaukee Bucks, just three games after he returned from a hand injury, many fans weren’t sure about Nerlens Noel’s ability to replace him.
In the following two months, as the playoffs rapidly approached, Noel proved to both fans and critics that he was a top-tier rim protector, averaging over 2.5 blocks a game across the final 18 games of the season.
His performances down the stretch earned him a three-year contract with the NY Knicks worth up to $31 million.
Now that Mitchell Robinson is back and fully healthy to start the new season, the question arises…
How do you balance minutes between the two?
Who should the NY Knicks start at Center this season?
Robinson is entering into his fourth NBA season and is still only 23-years-old.
While he’s not yet a weapon on offense, he is a great finisher around the rim and a lob threat at all times, standing at 7-feet tall.
Notably, Derrick Rose has only played two full games with Robinson due to injuries between the two.
Playing with and catching lobs from Rose for a full season will go a long way towards furthering Robinson’s development, similar to how the addition of Chris Paul in Phoenix has helped DeAndre Ayton expand his game.
At the same time, Noel has more than proved he deserves his minutes. He was the only player in the NBA last season to average at least two blocks and a steal and he was often the backbone defensively for the Knicks.
He’s also getting paid close to $10 million a year and it’s not to be a benchwarmer.
I’m going to take a look at why each guy deserves to play and how I think the Knicks should balance their playing time.