Mitchell Robinson back at practice, could return on Friday

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Mitchell Robinson Knicks
New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, left, defends Toronto Raptors guard Scottie Barnes during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson)

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson returned to practice on Wednesday, making him one step closer to returning to game action for New York. 

The 24-year-old center has been on the shelf since January 18th after having surgery to fix a fractured right thumb. While the Knicks were able to go 8-6 without him, Robinson’s return should be a major boost to a team that has been energized of late with the addition of Josh Hart at the trade deadline. 


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Before getting hurt, Mitchell Robinson was averaging 7.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game over 38 games this season. If he had played enough games to qualify, his 1.8 blocks per game would rank sixth in the NBA and is a clear indicator of his value as a rim protector for this team. 

According to Crafted NBA, Robinson has a 98th-percentile block rate, 73rd-percentile defensive rebounding rate, and 73rd-percentile deflection rate. His defensive plus/minus according to Crafted NBA is also in the 92nd percentile, and the Knicks are +8 with Mitchell Robinson ON the floor this season, allowing 5.4 more points per possession when Robinson is out, which is 90th percentile in the league in terms of player impact. 

However, Robinson’s impact can also be felt on the offensive end. The Knicks score 3.4 more points per game with Robinson on the court, shooting at 2% better effective field goal rate, and registering a 2.2% better offensive rebounding rate. All of those rank in the top 75th percentile in the league. 

Over the last 15 games, all but one without Robinson, the Knicks have ranked well above average in terms of offensive efficiency, but are lagging behind the league average in terms of defensive efficiency. Getting Robinson back means ther Knicks could join the Nuggets, Bucks, Celtics, Cavaliers, and 76ers as teams that are above average in both offensive and defensive efficiency. 

While Robinson’s return to practice on Wednesday was a great step in the right direction, head coach Tom Thibodeau was clear that he would be cautious with his big man’s return. 

“Good, he went through practice, so we’ll see how he feels [Thursday],” said Thibodeau after Wednesday’s workout in Tarrytown. “He was cleared for contact. It’s his first day back, so we’ll see how he feels. But he’s got to go step by step. This is the next step to be in practice and take contact, but it’s still not the intensity of a game.”

While Thibodeau was cautious, Mitchell Robinson jumped on Instagram after practice, commenting on a Knicks Fan TV post about his return by saying, “Got busy today.

If Robinson remains in good spirits after another workout on Thursday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him play a few minutes on Friday in Washington or, perhaps more likely, when the Knicks return home on Saturday to take on the Pelicans and their 7’0″ big man Jonas Valančiūnas.

“It does [help] a lot,” point guard Jalen Brunson said of Mitchell Robinson’s pending return. “It’s good to see him healthy, first and foremost. He brings a lot to the table. He’s been great for us down inside the paint, on both sides of the floor. So when we can get a guy like that back, it definitely helps and I’m very excited to get him back.”

Brunson shares that exctiment in common with Knicks fans throughout the city. 


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For more Knicks coverage, like this Mitchell Robinson update, visit amNY Sports

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson dunks over Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart (28) during the first half.
Knicks center Mitchell Robinson dunks over Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart (28) during the first half of a November game. AP Photo/Adam Hunger