Did the Knicks make the right pick in taking a big man without loads of experience?
After the selection of Kevin Knox, and a long wait until the arrival of Mark Tatum at the podium for round two (the speed round), the Knicks were finally back on the clock. With the 36th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, they selected Mitchell Robinson. One of the more intriguing prospects in this draft class, Robinson last played competitive basketball for Chalmette High School in Los Angeles. The former 8th ranked player in his class, Robinson was a McDonald’s All American in 2017 with the makings of a future lottery pick in the NBA. After initially committing to Texas A&M, Robinson transferred to Western Kentucky. However, he ended up withdrawing from classes twice before the start of the basketball season, ultimately resulting in him leaving the university. Due to the timing of his enrollment and departure from Western Kentucky, he was unable to play in the G League because he had been enrolled in academic classes within the same year. What a crazy ride it’s been for the big man.
With all that in mind, my initial reaction was, “who the hell is this guy?” I had never heard of Mitchell Robinson and was even more dissatisfied when I saw he did not play in college. However, after doing some quick research after the selection (approximately 10 minutes), I am content with the pick and excited for what Robinson could bring to the table.
Okay, I want to end on a positive note so I thought we might as well address the negatives to start. The big one is experience. Having been away from competitive basketball for over a year and not gaining any meaningful skills playing college ball, Robinson has a significant disadvantage over his fellow draftees. Expect it to take some time for Robinson to adjust to the speed that the Knicks want to play and the style of play in the NBA. At 20 years old, Robinson’s game is still very undeveloped, more driven by instinct and physical advantage than being technically sound. He will need to develop many facets of his game further in order to be successful on the big stage in New York.
At 7 feet tall with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, combined with an incredible athletic ability, Robinson has enormous potential to be an elite center in the NBA. It’s hard to find a prospect of this talent in the second round, and the Knicks capitalized on the opportunity. Although parts of his game are under-developed, the raw talent on display is undeniable. He’s extremely fluid on the court and a terrific finisher at the rim. Highlight tapes of him dunking offer a peek into the incredible athleticism, especially for his size. His length and ability to cover the court give him an enormous advantage in the pick and roll game. Robinson is also known for his shot blocking ability, which was a standout aspect of his game in high school.
The Knicks made an excellent selection with the 36th overall pick. With “safer options” such as Jevon Carter and Jalen Brunson selected early in the second, the Knicks had nothing to lose taking a gamble on a player like Mitchell Robinson. With the addition of David Fizdale, the Knicks have become the perfect home for player development. If Robinson buys into the system and works towards developing his weaknesses, the sky’s the limit as to what he can accomplish. As a former McDonald’s All American and a top player in his class, the Knicks may have just gotten a lottery pick talent with the 36th overall selection. Did something finally go our way?
It will be exciting to watch the development of Knox and Robinson with the Knicks next year, two players who remarkably are still under the US legal drinking age. This, along with the further development of second-year players like Frank Ntilikina and Damyean Dotson, offers plenty of excitement for fans watching in-person and at home. For the first time in a while, the young guys will get a chance to shine in the Big Apple.