New Knicks Teammate Excites Mitchell Robinson in Imminent Return

Knicks' Mitchell Robinson

Getty Mitchell Robinson #23 of the New York Knicks is greeted by teammates as he is introduced before an NBA In-Season Tournament game against the Charlotte Hornets.

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is excited to return from the ankle surgery that sidelined him for more than 3 months. But what excites him the most in his imminent comeback is his new teammate, OG Anunoby.

Robinson is eager to realize the defensive potential of his frontcourt partnership with Anunoby, who led the league in steals during the 2022-23 season when he was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.

“He’s active. He’s not afraid to take a chance,” Robinson said of Anunoby, per New York Post. “He might miss one here or there but that’s alright. He’ll get most of them.”

Robinson assured his new teammate that he would always have his back as the backline of the Knicks’ defense.

“I can make up for it when he doesn’t get it,” Robinson said, per New York Post.

Robinson was the anchor of the Knicks’ defense during their last two playoff runs, serving as one of the league’s best rim protectors and top rebounders. But for the first time in his six-year career, he will have one of the elite wing defenders, if not the most elite, as his running mate.

The Knicks already had the league’s best defense when Anunoby was healthy. Getting Robinson back into the mix has the potential to turn the Knicks into a defensive juggernaut when the playoffs arrive.

“I feel like with me and OG on the defensive end, we can back to what we need to be – especially in that area,” Robinson said, per The Athletic. “We’re going to have our guys that’s going to score. So we’re going to continue to work. And we’re going to be alright.”

Mitchell Robinson to Come off Knicks’ Bench

When Robinson returns, which could be next week, coach Tom Thibodeau plans to ease him back into the rotation.

“When a guy comes back off an extended injury or time where he’s been out, I think it takes a little bit of time to get that timing back,” Thibodeau said, per The Athletic. “It probably makes more sense with shorter minutes to (bring him off the bench). We’ll see how it unfolds.”

Robinson has not come off the bench since a November 20, 2022, loss to the Phoenix Suns when he returned from a right knee sprain last season. He logged two points on 1 of 2 shooting, four rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 17 minutes off the bench as Isaiah Hartenstein started.

While his off-the-bench role lasted only for one game last season, it could be longer this time as he is poised to have missed more more than half of this season when he’s cleared to return.

“He’s going to build up to that,” Thibodeau said, per Newsday.

NBA All-Defensive Team Award Has to Wait

Robinson was on his way to make a strong case for an All-Defensive team spot when he went down with the ankle injury on December 8 in Boston.

“I felt like I was finally getting in shape to the top of my career right there,” Robinson said, per The Athletic. “And the next thing you know, (I) just went down and I wanted to throw [expletive].”

In 21 games, the 7-foot Robinson averaged a career-high 10.3 rebounds along with 6.2 points on 59% shooting, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks. He’s leading the league in offensive rebounding with 5.3 per game.

The injury disqualifies Robinson from getting an end-of-the-season award as the NBA recently modified the criteria which now requires players to play at least 65 games to be qualified.


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