Mitchell Robinson
AP Photo

Mitchell Robinson’s hitting remarkable milestones for a New York Knicks rookie despite the team’s historic losing.

Danny Small

The New York Knicks are at the confusing point in the season where it’s already over, but there are still games left to play. For head coach David Fizdale, these final games are about helping the young core grow. Mitchell Robinson is one of the most important aspects of the team’s future.

The lanky Robinson is on a historic run statistically despite the fact that his team is on its way to the worst season in franchise history. Robinson’s rise has coincided with many brutal defeats and Thursday against the Toronto Raptors was no different. Toronto beat the Knicks 117-92 and there weren’t many positives for the Knicks to glean from this one-sided affair.

The Raptors burst out to an early lead in the first quarter and never looked back. They maintained a double-digit lead for the vast majority of the game. Toronto diced up the defense with quick ball movement, often leading to open threes. Pascal Siakam was an absolute menace, tallying 31 points, five rebounds, and five assists.

Mitchell Robinson
(Jason DeCrow/AP Photo)

Defensively, the Raptors stymied the Knicks, holding the home side to just 36.5 percent shooting from the floor. Despite Toronto’s stingy defense, they had no way to stop Robinson. He finished the night with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting with 21 rebounds. Nine of those rebounds came on the offensive end.

Robinson’s 21 boards are the most by a Knicks rookie since Willis Reed in 1965. The rookie didn’t know that until reporters brought it up in the locker room after the game.

“Whoa, that makes me feel great,” Robinson said.

The kid from Louisiana didn’t really know what to say. His rebounding is coming along with help from fellow center DeAndre Jordan. It’s one of the brightest developments to his game all season.

But despite what he can do offensively, his biggest upside is still on the defensive end. He recently broke the franchise record for blocks in a season by a rookie (previously held by Kristaps Porzingis). Furthermore, he shattered Patrick Ewing‘s Knicks rookie record for consecutive games with a block.

Perhaps hidden in the near 20-20 game were Robinson’s two blocks. This marks the 23rd straight game the rookie has recorded multiple blocks. He’s only two behind David Robinson for second on the all-time rookie list. Manute Bol holds the record with 45 straight games with multiple blocks his rookie season.

By the time this season is over, Mitchell Robinson will cement his name alongside some of the all-time greats. David Robinson, Ewing, and Reed are Hall of Famers and Porzingis developed into an All-Star shortly after his rookie season.

Mitchell Robinson smashed a hole through his “rookie wall” and hasn’t looked back. While he’s playing the best basketball of his young career, his team continues to slide.

“It don’t have to all be positive,” Fizdale said when asked how he stays positive during the losing. “No, and it won’t be positive tomorrow during film session.”

New York Knicks

While Robinson etches his name in franchise history, the team will do the same, but in more dubious fashion. With seven games left to play, the Knicks are dangerously close to posting the worst record in franchise history. New York needs to win three of their last seven games to tie that mark set during the 2014-15 season.

It’s unlikely that the Knicks surpass 17 wins with games against the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Detroit Pistons all left on the schedule. These teams are all fighting for their playoff lives. Not to mention, New York still must travel to Texas to take on the Houston Rockets. They have winnable games against the Washington Wizards and two contests against the tanking Chicago Bulls.

New York is 3-14 since the All-Star break and they are finishing the season battered and bruised like so many other teams. Instead, the focus should be on the individual play of a few key young pieces. Robinson is clearly one of those players to focus on as he looks to continue making history.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article stated that David Robinson held the rookie record for consecutive games with multiple blocks. Manute Bol set the record at 45 straight games in 1985-86.


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