Mitchell Robinson Reveals Defensive Plan Against Victor Wembanyama

Mitchell Robinson, Knicks

Getty Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics passes as Mitchell Robinson #23 of the New York Knicks defends.

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson braces for his biggest challenge yet when he goes up against top pick Victor Wembanyama on Wednesday night.

Robinson is confident he can slow down the Wembanyama hype train during its stop at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m going to play him just like he’s one of those like Kristaps Porzingis, kind of [players]. Who else plays like that? Bol Bol? Just got a mix them two together. I kind of got a feel how it should go,” Robinson said via SNY.

Robinson’s confidence should not be construed as arrogance. He’s done it against Porzingis.

In their narrow 108-104 loss to the Boston Celtics on opening night, Robinson held Porzingis to only six points on 2-of-6 shooting. The vastly improved Knicks center defended Porzingis 64.6% of the Celtics center’s floor time.

Still, Robinson can borrow a page from the Indiana Pacers’ defensive playbook, who held Wembanyama to 3-of-12 shooting, during their 152-111 rout of the San Antonio Spurs on November 6.

Myles Turner did a solid job staying in front of the 7-foot-4 Wembanyama. And whenever Wembanyama escaped his primary defense, a second defender lunged forward to face him at the rim.

Robinson noted that the key is to be quick on his feet against Wembanyama who’s agile for his size.

“He’s going to be on the perimeter a lot. I’ve just got to move my feet,” Robinson said via SNY. “Just gotta get ready for that.”

Wembanyama is not gun-shy. He’s hit 12 of 37 3-pointers across his first seven games.

While Robinson gives up a few inches in height, he makes up for it with his bulk which should be another key to slowing down Wembanyama’s activity in the paint.

Monster on the Boards

In his sixth season, Robinson is showing tremendous growth.

Robinson’s 6.4 offensive rebounds is two more than second-ranked Ausar Thompson (4.3), the defensive demon rookie in Detroit. His 45 offensive rebound total is only three shy of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s total across seven games.

As he finally becomes the league’s leader in offensive rebounds, he’s also becoming well-rounded.

Only three players — Deandre Ayton (13.3), Domantas Sabonis (13.2) and Nikola Jokic (12.9) are ahead of him in the rebounding ladder. His 12.4 rebounding average is a career-high and the first time he’s grabbing double-digit rebounds.

“I think the big thing is it’s not just the offense. He’s added the defensive rebounding, he’s been a monster on the boards,” Thibodeau said via New York Post. “I think he’s the best offensive rebounder, we already established that. And then now he’s fourth in the league in rebounding. Every night he’s got bodies on him and he’s done a great job for us.”

Joel Embiid Aware of Knicks Trade Chatter

As Robinson develops into a defensive monster, the trade chatter surrounding MVP-caliber center Joel Embiid just won’t go away.

Any potential Knicks package for Embiid should involve Robinson.

Embiid is well aware of the Knicks trade chatteraccording to a New York Post report.

“Of course, he hears [trade chatter],” Tucker said via The Post’s Stefan Bondy. “But you never know with these situations and how it’s going to play out, what guys are thinking, what’s happening behind closed doors. You never know.”

Embiid, a six-time All-Star, is playing again at an MVP level, averaging 32.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists. The former Leon Rose’s client is coming off a 48-point performance in the 76ers rout of the Washington Wizards Monday night.

He’s the kind of superstar the Knicks have been saving all their draft capital for.

But with the 76ers off to a great start with the Harden drama all behind them, the chances of him becoming available for the Knicks are getting slimmer by the day.

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