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Knicks have opportunity to unleash best offensive lineup with Mitchell Robinson out

While Mitchell Robinson recovers from a fractured thumb, New York has a chance to field a fun, fast, and effective offensive lineup.

Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

With New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson out for at least three weeks with a fractured thumb, the team has to pivot. Robinson was a part of the five-man rotation for the Knicks that has played 240 more minutes than any other lineup combination.

Center Isaiah Hartenstein is likely to start and draw more time, but the Knicks have an opportunity to get creative.

A five-man lineup of Brunson-Grimes-Barrett-Randle-Hartenstein has a 99.0 offensive rating and 142.5 defensive rating in 50 minutes played together. The defensive rating is excellent, but they hold a -43.4 net rating and 46.2 effective field goal percentage. This unit can typically play against anyone defensively, although if teams go small, Hartenstein can struggle to stay in front of players with more speed. On offense, they struggle and are easily their worst combination in terms of offensive rating.

It doesn’t all fall on Hartenstein, who is a solid player—especially defensively—but he is not a center that will put the ball on the floor and create for himself. It’s similar to having Mitchell Robinson on offense, a five-on-four practically every time the Knicks have the ball.

Push the pace and score:

In only 15 minutes played this season, a lineup of Jalen Brunson-Immanuel Quickley-Quentin Grimes-RJ Barrett-Julius Randle has a . . . 129.5 offensive rating. With a True Shooting percentage of 62 percent, the Knicks should definitely experiment more with this lineup. You sacrifice size, of course, but Randle has been an amazing rebounder this season, and ranks in the top five for total rebounds.

This lineup has a 107.3 defensive rating with a +22.2 net rating: not too shabby. They also play at an absurd 136.08 pace. That number is physically unsustainable, but even if that’s dialed back a bit, they will create plenty of easy and quick baskets, especially in transition.

It would lead to more plays like this:

The Knicks play at the fifth slowest pace, and hopefully that number will tick up. Players like RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley are most effective running in transition, but the Knicks score the seventh fewest fast break points per game. This lineup could certainly help pace and transition scoring improve.

Having five players who can knock down shots from deep would make the Knicks difficult to defend. Teams also know if they slip up and turn the ball over, the Knicks will be out and running.

We have seen only a very small sample size of these five players together, but it would be in the Knicks’ best interest to see more of what they can do.