Image Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
The 2018-19 NBA season hasn’t been kind to the New York Knicks. Having the worst record in “The Association” and trading your best player midseason tends to be quite unforgiving. To put it lightly, there haven’t been many reasons to watch Knicks basketball this season. With that said, one silver lining provides hope for the future: Mitchell Robinson.
Skipping college in order to prepare for the draft, plenty of uncertainty mounted over time. Picked 36th overall in this year’s draft, New York knew it was getting a raw prospect. Heading into the season, no one quite knew what Robinson would do in his first NBA season.
Offensively, Robinson is flawed, yet efficient. So remarkably efficient that if the season ended today, the 7’1″ big man would hold the record for the highest field goal percentage by a rookie in NBA history. Converting on 69.1% of his attempts from the field, the odds are Robinson will make far more shots than he misses in any given game.
Raising his PPG average from 6.1 to 9.1 before to after the All-Star Break, there is hope for Robinson’s limited offensive arsenal. Per 36 minutes, he is averaging nearly 13 points and 11 rebounds a contest. What sets him apart is what he can do on the defensive end.
What Robinson is accomplishing on defense is nearly unheard of for a rookie. Recording at least two blocks in 25 consecutive games, he is tied with David Robinson for the second-longest rookie streak since 1973-74. Pacing all rookies in blocked shots is impressive but stuffing opponents as often as almost every first-year player in over 40 years is tremendous. With a 7-foot-4-inch wingspan, there aren’t many shots Robinson is unable to swat.
But wait — there’s more. As a matter of fact, Robinson currently ranks second in the NBA in blocks per game (2.46) despite playing just 19.7 minutes a night. Per 36 minutes, that equates to 4.5 BLK per game. For reference, 4.5 blocks a contest would be the sixth-highest average in NBA history. Robinson’s block percentage this season ranks third ever. Let that sink in.
Who knows what Mitchell Robinson’s ceiling is. At worst, he’s a low-scoring offensive presence but one of the best shot blockers in the league. From an optimistic point of view, perhaps the just-turned-21-year-old can pace the league in blocks for years to come while contributing double-digit points every night. With a critical offseason approaching in the Big Apple, one thing is for sure: Robinson is a building block for the future.