I’m going to give you two current centers in the NBA, along with their per 36 minute stat-line.
Player A averages 17.8 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes. This player is a defensive anchor for the Utah Jazz, and is widely considered a top-5 center in the NBA.
Player B averages 12.9 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per 36 minutes. This player is a rookie center drafted with the 36th pick of the 2018 NBA draft.
Player A, if you haven’t figured out already, is Rudy Gobert. Keep in mind, Gobert was the winner of the 2017-2018 Defensive Player of the Year award.
(Photo Via: SLC Dunk)
Player B is Mitchell Robinson.
In a season for the New York Knicks that has brought trade drama, ownership concerns, and a boatload of losing, there has been one consistent factor that has exceeded expectations beyond what was even in the organization’s comprehension. That factor is the recent play of Mitchell Robinson.
Starting the summer league considered as a “project”, Robinson finished averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks per contest. And while this was encouraging at the time, nobody looked at it as a pre-cursor for what was to come in his first year of professional basketball. That is, until he stepped on the court.
After starting the season slow, Robinson exploded in the month of November, with 37 blocks in only 14 games played. It was in this month we caught a glimpse of what Robinson is able to do on the defensive end of the floor. The best part? He was only scratching the surface.
(Photo Via: Kevin Hagen/Associated Press)
In the month of February, he averaged 11 points, 8.7 rebounds, and an absurd 3.2 (!!) blocks per game. These stats seem extremely solid for a player who’s 21st birthday was just a couple of days ago, and solid enough for any starting center on an NBA team. They seem even more solid, considering that this amount of production came in just 23 minutes per contest.
For comparison, NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo in his rookie year averaged 3 blocks per game, in almost 15 more minutes played per contest.
Robinson’s production was steady through the month of March. His block total has upped to 150 on the season, breaking the Knicks’ previous record of blocks in a season by a rookie, which was held by Kristaps Porzingis with 134.
And while the statistics speak for themselves regarding Robinson’s dominant court presence, they don’t speak for his work ethic off the court. Just minutes before his 21st birthday on April 1st, Robinson wasn’t out on the town partying with his friends. He wasn’t home celebrating with his family nor was he relaxing in the comfort of his home. At around 11:50 PM, he was in the gym, working on his game.
Mentored by one of the best defensive centers in the last decade in DeAndre Jordan, Robinson has become the player that a team not only desires, but needs: a humble, hard working defensive presence that can score around the basket at will. Not only will he stuff you on one end of the court, but he will catch a lob and dunk it in your face on the other end of the court.
This season for Knicks fans has been a lousy one at best. With no current playoff aspirations and limited talent (no offense, Luke Kornet) , the Knicks and their fan-base are banking on either a marquee free agent such as Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, or the number one overall pick. But as of now, Kyrie seems happy on the Celtics and the Warriors are the best team in the league, giving Durant no immediate reason to flee out of title-town. And if you think luck will be on the Knicks side come draft time, then you obviously haven’t been keeping up with the New York Knicks.
So, if you happen to be a Knicks fan looking for something, or in this case, someone to bank on for the 2019-2020 season, then look no further then who is already on your roster. Banking on the likes of superstars leaving town for the bright lights of New York is nothing short of a pipe dream. And banking on a generational talent falling into your laps with the #1 pick is downright silly. Let the gambler in you bank on a potential defensive superstar, with the attitude of a seasoned veteran. Put your money on Mitchell Robinson.