Scout on what he’s seen from Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson as he enters contract year


Mitchell Robinson treated image, blue uniform with blurred fans in background

Mitchell Robinson is incredibly gifted. In his first three years, he’s established himself as one of the top young rim protectors in the league.

If you look at his blocks year over year, you may question that statement. His blocks per 100 possessions have decreased from 5.7 in his rookie season to 2.6 last season.

“Oftentimes, we talk about defensive ratings and different measurements (that can be misleading),” Tom Thibodeau said Thursday. “Sometimes, you may see a guy who’s high in steals and he gets rated highly because of that. And oftentimes, he’s a guy that breaks (the team) down (defensively).

“If you just go after blocks all the time, you’re not fulfilling your team responsibilities. Again, your blocks may be high but you may not be effective in terms of your team defense or your pick-and-roll defense or whatever it might be.

“I think the big thing for us is getting (Robinson’s) fouls down, and I think he’s done a great job with that. And there’s still the rim intimidation. Guys are looking to see where he is. SO I think his discipline is improved greatly. He’s not recklessly just flying all over the place. He’s got a lot more discipline to his game. He’s impacting shots in the paint, in the restricted in a very efficient way.”

Thibodeau and others in the organization have noted that Robinson was playing well before he hurt his foot in the second half of 2020-21. This current Knicks regime probably needs more time to evaluate Robinson, who will be a free agent in the summer of 2022, before committing to him long-term.

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The Knicks can offer Robinson an extension any time between now and the eve of free agency. The extension can be as long as four years and worth as much as $54 million in total. In the offseason, some with the Knicks had said the club was unlikely to agree with Robinson on an extension early in the season; they preferred to evaluate Robinson more fully during the season before deciding on a long-term approach, per SNY sources.

So this is a pivotal stretch for Robinson, who is currently sidelined while rehabbing his foot fracture.

With that in mind, we asked scout who watched the Knicks semi-regularly last season to evaluate Robinson. Here’s what the scout said:

“I give (Steve Mills and Scott Perry) a lot of credit for taking him (with the No. 36 pick in 2018). We liked him but not enough to pull the trigger. They did and they were right. His physical tools are all there. One thing I’d like to see from him this season is setting better screens. He’s improved in that area, but even last season there were times when (his screens were subpar). I’d like to see that consistently this year.”

“The other thing long-term is, can he draw defenders out of the paint? He was a good shooter in high school and we thought it might translate to (the NBA). We haven’t seen it yet. If he can knock shots down, it changes so much (for the Knicks on offense).

“(The Knicks’ spacing) would be so much better if (Robinson) can be at least a threat further from the basket. I like him a lot, and he’s been much more (disciplined when it comes to fouling). If he can knock a shot down, he’d unlock a lot (for himself and the Knicks).”

LECQUE IN MILWAUKEE?

Guard Jalen Lecque has been working out in Milwaukee with some Bucks players recently, according to people in the gym. Lecque, a 21-year-old guard, has spent time with the Suns and Pacers. Worth noting: Milwaukee has 18 players under contract, so it would have room to add Lecque on a training camp deal.

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