The New York Knicks’ Only Hope
By: Philip Reed
Another season of NBA Basketball, another season of disappointing Knicks play. The Knicks are yet again one of the bottom teams in the league for what feels like the last decade. In fact, the Knicks have not made the playoffs since 2013, back when they had Carmelo Anthony. One would figure that after losing for almost the better part of 8 years, the Knicks might finally land a big prospect who could carry them back to glory… but then Phil Jackson commanded $12 million a year and seemed to screw it all up. Kristaps Porzingis? Currently thriving with young superstar Luka Doncic in Dallas. Frank Ntilikina? Still with NYK but he comes off the bench most nights and plays like an undrafted free agent. Aside from his defense, you’d hardly even know he’s on the court. Kevin Knox, the lanky 18 year old out of Kentucky? Also still on the team, but most nights he is non-existent and plays off the bench.
Most readers are by now most likely concluding that RJ Barrett is the savior for the Knicks. He was an absolute monster in college, and the 3rd pick in the whole NBA draft last season. However, I don’t think RJ will be the savior for NYK. I see RJ as a great complimentary piece to a player that might be able to bring the Knicks back to their winning ways in the near future. That player…. Is Mitchell Robinson. Now before you laugh, call me crazy, and stop reading any article with my name on it, please hear me out.
Robinson is only 21 years old, and was drafted in round 2 pick 36 of the 2018 NBA draft. After playing limited minutes in his first season, Robinson managed to average 7 points, 6 boards, and 2.4 blocks per game. At this point in his career, he isn’t an offensive presence such as Joel Embiid, prime Dwight Howard, or Karl Anthony Towns; however, Robinson absolutely has the tools to be one of the best if not the best defensive players in this league. Defense wins championships. Robinson’s best NBA comparison is reigning DPOY Rudy Gobert. Gobert consistently allows the Utah Jazz to win ball games and make playoff runs. Yes, Donovan Mitchell is the better player. Yes, Donovan Mitchell generates more headlines. However, Gobert is that solid defensive stalwart that enables everyone around him to play more aggressively and confidently knowing that they have an eraser to guard the rim. Gobert and Robinson are each around 7’1” in height, with Gobert being 20 lbs heavier. As his body matures, I expect Robinson to get up to around 245lbs, and if he can pour in 15 points a night like Gobert (they each have very similar FG%’s too), grab a minimum of 10 boards, and consistently average over 2 blocks a night; then he can be an all star and perennial DPOY for the Knicks.
Remember, Robinson was a 5-star prospect out of high school who skipped college basketball to prepare for the 2018 draft. If he played in college, he very likely could have been a lottery pick that year due to the added exposure. I see Barrett complimenting Robinson’s game very well, just like Donovan Mitchell compliments Gobert. They each throw lobs, attack the lane, and aren’t afraid to take jump shots that lead to rebounds for their respective centers.
In order for the Knicks to be successful, they need to ensure the development of both Barrett and Robinson, and land a top prospect in the 2020 draft as well. In my opinion, having a sound PG to compliment Barrett in the back court should be a top priority for the Knicks, is LaMelo Ball the answer? I guess we shall see.