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How outsiders value the Knicks' youngsters, part 1: Mitchell Robinson

The Blockness Monster is one of NYK’s bedrocks

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It’s been eight years since the Knicks had a winning record at the end of the regular season, but recently it’s started to feel like the team has some real assets in the form of young players with plenty of potential. But how do outsiders feel about New York’s guys?

Let’s explore how non-New Yorkers, including members of other fanbases and writers who focus on other teams, feel about the Knicks’ youngsters.

First up, Mitchell Robinson.

Second round draft picks (Robinson was taken 36th overall in 2018) don’t always become a team’s most valuable asset, but with the possible exception of RJ Barrett, that’s Robinson to a tee right now. Him and Barrett are the two players the Knicks are “reluctant to discuss” in trade talks, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Truth be told, there isn’t all that much speculation from outside of New York when it comes to Robinson, perhaps because everyone knows he’s one of the few players that the Knicks don’t actively want to trade. Still, there is some chatter about Robinson — who last year broke Wilt Chamberlain’s single season record for highest field goal percentage by shooting 74.2% — so grab some cutlery, attach your bib, and let’s dig in.

BulletsForever seems to massively underrate Robinson.

No offense to BulletsForever, which is Posting and Toasting except for fans of the Washington Wizards, but they were way off when recently speculating that the Wizards could potentially nab Mitch in the following trade:

The Wizards trade the #9 pick overall and center Moritz Wagner to the New York Knicks for center Mitchell Robinson, the #27 pick overall and a 2021 2nd round pick, originally Detroit’s.

That’s not to disrespect Wagner, who was the 25th overall pick in the 2018 draft and has looked pretty decent over the course of his first two seasons, but if Washington Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard called up with this offer and Leon Rose did anything but provide a quick burst of laughter before hanging up the phone, then Rose should be fired immediately.

Not merely in the sense of ‘he no longer works for the Knicks,’ mind you. In this scenario, Rose should be fired out of a cannon across the East River. Maybe he’d land in Brooklyn and could latch onto some kind of job with the Nets.

Now, to be fair, even the writer of that BulletsForever piece doesn’t sound too confident in this trade. The section on why the Knicks might do the deal begins with a question: They like this draft?

Sure, this deal would result in the Knicks having both the eighth and ninth picks in this year’s draft, which would be pretty cool. But not cool enough to warrant ridding the franchise of whatever Robinson’s ceiling might be.

For the record, BulletsForever believes Robinson “improved over his rookie campaign but still fouls too much.” That’s true! They also say “his free throw shooting hurts his chances of being in the closing (offensive) lineup despite his value as a vertical spacer.” That’s also true; Robinson’s free throw shooting ticked down slightly last year, and for his career he shoots 58% from the stripe.

In a poll at the bottom of the post, 61% of the 296 votes said yes, the Wizards should do the trade for Mitchell Robinson. Uh yeah, they should do that trade if it’s available. Which it’s not.

BlueManHoop kind of gets it, but not quite.

BlueManHoop is Fansided’s version of a team blog for the Golden State Warriors. A recent post pontificated on a potential trade involving Robinson, and, in what’s becoming a trend, the Knicks appear more desperate than they should have to be. Here’s the trade proposal:

Golden State receives: 8th overall pick, 2021 Dallas first-round pick, 2023 Dallas first-round pick, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox

New York receives: 2nd overall pick

It would be totally great if the Knicks could just move up and select, say, LeMelo Ball, who people seem to think could be the point guard New York needs. But this would be selling low on Mitch, who might very well go in the top 10 if the 2018 draft were redrafted today.

The writer even hits on a key point, noting that “in acquiring Robinson the Warriors would get a center with All-Star potential, and inserting Robinson into a lineup with three All-Stars and Andrew Wiggins would automatically give the Dubs the best starting unit in the NBA.”

So the Knicks should trade a potential future All-Star in Robinson, 21-year-old Knox and three draft picks for one of the top two choices in this year’s draft? Go back to the dry erase board and wipe off Robinson’s name from this trade, please.

It’s ugly over at RaptorsRapture.

Another Fansided team blog for the loss. Over at RaptorsRapture, Robinson is being traded to Toronto for the 29th pick in this year’s draft. So, yeah. About that.

This is a classic example of a blogger being too focused on their own team and not even considering what the other team involved might think. The Knicks are not going to trade Robinson for a late first round draft pick. For goodness’ sake, they might not even trade Frank Ntilikina in such a deal.

If you can, let’s move past the outrage and into the actual analysis of Robinson as a basketball player from RaptorsRapture. After a number of paragraphs about how Robinson would provide the Raptors with financial flexibility because of his meager cap hit for the next couple of years, the writer notes that Robinson “would be a fine backup to Serge Ibaka in 2020/21.”

He’d make an even better starting center for the Knicks! Unless, of course, Taj Gibson is brought back and Tom Thibodeau inanely decides to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors by bringing Mitch off the bench.

In the end, the writer at RaptorsRapture understands what makes Mitch good, he just thinks the Knicks can be swindled.

There is also Mitchell Robinson’s ability to be a prolific rim protector. To date, Robinson is averaging 2.2 blocked shots a game in his career. He is extremely athletic and has a seven-foot-four inch wingspan. His 72 percent field goal average is outstanding and the Toronto Raptors could use a consistent scorer around the basket as they were just 21st in 2020 scoring points in the paint.

You’re going to need to pony up more than a late first rounder to wrestle Robinson away from New York.


The result of this research is that outsiders believe the Knicks are still a franchise to be mocked. Some think that the Knicks’ new team president will trade one of the franchise’s two best players for a late first round draft pick, while others think Robinson would need to be part of a much larger package to get the second overall pick in this year’s draft.

Chances are slim that actual general managers for other teams feel this way about Robinson. It would be shocking if we found out, for instance, that Masai Ujiri actually called Rose and offered the 29th pick for Robinson straight up. One thing does seem clear, however: outsiders would love to have Robinson on their squad, and they wish the Knicks wouldn’t realize how valuable he really is.