Getty Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics passes while Mitchell Robinson #23 of the New York Knicks defends.
New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is preparing for his biggest challenge yet when he takes on top prospect Victor Wembanyama on Wednesday night.
Robinson is confident he can slow down the Wembanyama hype train during his stop at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m going to play him like he’s one of those guys like Kristaps Porzingis [players]. Who else plays like that? Bol Bol? I just mixed the two together. I kind of got a feel for how it was supposed to go,” Robinson said via SNY.
Robinson’s confidence should not be interpreted as arrogance. He did it against Porzingis.
In the narrow 108-104 loss to the Boston Celtics on opening night, Robinson held Porzingis to just six points on 2 of 6 shooting. The much-improved Knicks center defended Porzingis for 64.6% of the Celtics center’s playing time.
Still, Robinson can borrow a page from the Indiana Pacers’ defensive playbook, who held Wembanyama to 3 of 12 shooting in their 152-111 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 6.
Myles Turner did a good job staying in front of the 7-foot-4 Wembanyama. And whenever Wembanyama escaped his main defense, a second defender would rush forward to meet him at the edge.
Robinson noted that the key is to be quick on his feet against Wembanyama, who is agile for his size.
“He’ll be on the sidelines a lot. I just have to move my feet,” Robinson said via SNY. “I just have to prepare for that.”
Wembanyama is not gun-shy. He made 12 of 37 3-pointers in his first seven games.
While Robinson loses a few inches in height, he makes up for it with his bulk, which should be another key to slowing Wembanyama’s activity in the paint.
Monsters on the boards
In his sixth season, Robinson is showing tremendous growth.
Robinson’s 6.4 offensive rebounds are two more than second-place finisher Ausar Thompson (4.3), Detroit’s rookie defensive Demon. His total of 45 offensive rebounds is just three fewer than the Oklahoma City Thunder’s total in seven games.
As he eventually becomes the league’s all-time leader in offensive rebounds, he’s also developing into an all-around player.
Only three players – Deandre Ayton (13.3), Domantas Sabonis (13.2) and Nikola Jokic (12.9) – are ahead of him in the rebounding rankings. His 12.4 rebound average is a career high and is the first time he has recorded double-digit rebounds.
“I think the most important thing is that it’s not just about the offense. He added defensive rebounding, he was a monster on the boards,” Thibodeau said, via the New York Post. “I think he’s the best offensive rebounder, we’ve already established that. And now he’s fourth in the league in rebounding. There are bodies thrown at him every night and he’s done a great job for us.”
Joel Embiid is aware of the 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 include Robinson.
According to a report from the New York Post, Embiid is well aware of the trade talks with the Knicks.
“Of course he hears [trade chatter]” Tucker said, via Stefan Bondy of the Post. “But in situations like this you never know how it will turn out, what people will think, what will happen behind closed doors. You never know.”
Embiid, a six-time All-Star, is once again playing at an MVP level, averaging 32.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists. The former Leon Rose client posted a 48-point performance in the 76ers’ win over the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
He’s the type of superstar the Knicks saved their entire draft capital for.
However, with the 76ers off to a great start and the Harden drama behind them, the chances of him being available to the Knicks are getting slimmer by the day.
Erle Almo is a basketball journalist who covers the New York Knicks and Golden State Warirors for Heavy. He has more than 15 years of experience in local and international media, including broadcast, print and digital. He previously covered the Knicks for Empire Sports Media and the NBA for Off the Glass. Alder is from the Philippines and now lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. More about Alder Almo
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