Mark Eaton, Dennis Rodman, Ben Wallace.
The common denominator among those three strong men: winning the Defensive Player of the Year award at least twice each in individual seasons in which they scored fewer than 10 PPG.
Get the hell outta here if you are one of those claiming Mitchell Robinson’s low-scoring output straight rules him out of the race, please.
Eaton (in 1985) and Wallace (in 2005) topped nine points a pop once each. No other DPOY-worth season among the eight referenced above featured one of those three gentlemen scoring more than 8.8 points.
The sample is tiny, but Mitch is currently keeping up an average per-game line of 6.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, 0.5 dimes, 1.5 steals, and one block.
Robinson has yet to finish a season below an average of 1.5 swats a pop, mind you, so I’d say it’s reasonable to expect that number to go up a notch while he keeps focusing on using his mits to swat passes and snatch possessions to put up numbers in the steals column.
Among those listed above, only Ben Wallace (the four times he won the award; kudos to this beast) did so averaging more than a steal per game. Mitch’s way there.
Of the players listed above, Dennis Rodman didn’t block more than one shot (0.7 BPG twice) per game on his way to getting the ‘90 and ‘91 awards.
None of the three DPOY-winning players above ever dished out two assists per game, with Wallace topping at 1.9 and only three of the eight award-winning seasons featuring a player (Wallace sweeping the field those three times) averaging more than 1.5.
Do I need to type again, it’s a Defensive Player of the Year accolade?
Of course, that’d be reductive. In fact, entirely avoiding Robinson’s contributions on the offensive front could perhaps hurt his case even more than his usual numbers and lack of scoring does when it comes to assessing his value in most league corners.
Robinson is pulling down 12.4 rebounds, but in more than half of those (6.3), he’s grabbing on the offensive glass. That’s absolutely insane in the brain, full stop. The advanced numbers are simply gaudy, with an offensive rebound rate of 20.2% (improving on the league-leading 18.4% mark Mitch put up last year).
Five players in league history have had multiple seasons with rebounding rates north of 18% on both the defensive and offensive glass: Jayson Williams and Andre Drummond three times each, Moses Malone and Dennis Rodman four times. Robinson did it last year and is having his second such campaign.
Yes, the shooting is down and the scoring even more, but if we’re saying Julius Randle has started the season slow and are giving him time to bounce back (which he’s done in the past two games) which is making it so obvious not to expect the same from Robison?
We’re talking about a big that has FG% figures north of 65 percent in each of the full five pro seasons he’s spent in the NBA. He’s a hair below 49% this year through eight games. Don’t have the tiniest doubt he’ll eventually raise that figure way past the 50%, 55%, 60%, and hell, 65% mark.
Folks all across the NBA landscape, both those paid by broadcasting companies and those Tweeting (X’ing?) for free, hurried to laugh at Robinson’s comments about defending Wembanyama (“I’m not really worried about the tallness, bro.“) ahead of last Wednesday’s matchup in which the rook made in his MSG debut and also experienced his “welcome to the league” moment.
The outcome backed Mitch up nicely, I’d say.
Victor Wembanyama when Mitchell Robinson was the primary defender tonight:— KnicksMuse (@KnicksMuse) November 9, 2023
• 0/6 FG
• 2 Airballs
Standing on BUSINESS. pic.twitter.com/gCP9MGErkv
Quoth Brunson after the Spurs game: “I think Mitch did a great job just understanding what Wemby likes to do, making it difficult for him.”
Quoth Barrett: “[Mitch] backed up his words.”
Quoth Hart: “[Mitch brings], definitely, physicality. Obviously rebounding the ball at an extremely high rate. Offensive rebounding, getting second shots. Protecting the paint, deterring shots, deterring guys from taking shots.”
Quoth Hartenstein: “What is [Mitch] averaging right now? Six offensive rebounds a game? He consistently has to mentally be in that space. So, I’ve been proud of him. He’s been probably the most consistent guy on the team this year. It’s been really exciting.”
Quoth Quickley: “I ain’t seen this since I’ve been with him, but [Mitch] has been terrific. He’s going to keep getting better.”
Quoth Thibs: “[Mitch] has the ability to be up and get back. He’s the anchor. He’s back there seeing everything. I think his understanding of the league now, what players like to do, (has) grown.”
And this is what the very own Mitch, future DPOY, had to offer to the masses: “Doing what I’m supposed to do. Doing my job. Playing defense.”
Effectual, efficient, effective.
Mitchell Robinson held up a timer for his media availability pic.twitter.com/DpuHXorlfS— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) November 9, 2023
Cast the right vote. “You have 30 seconds.”