Jeff Chiu – Associated Press

During a blowout win February 12th inside the Capital One arena in Washington DC, the New York Knicks rim protector Mitchell Robinson suffered a right hand fracture during the second quarter. Robinson already had a double double at the time of his exit from the game. The Knicks big man had 10-points to go along with 14-rebounds. Robinson had 2-steals and was clearly favoring his hand at the free-throw line, bricking all four of his free throws. Tom Thibodeau, Mike Woodson, and the rest of the coaching staff will collaborate to maintain defensive sustainability without the presence of Mitchell Robinson.

Wendell Cruz – USA Today Sports

Collaborative Effort Needed

The men sporting the orange and blue will need to carry the weight during the absence of the 7’1” shot blocking monster. Tom Thibodeau already expressed his desire to start Nerlens Noel. There were also talks of incorporating different small ball lineups including Taj Gibson and Obi Toppin, along with Randle playing some minutes at center.

On Saturday February 13th, the Knicks reeled off another lopsided victory inside Madison Square Garden against a banged up Houston Rockets team. Six players scored double figures for the Knicks. Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley led the way, each scored 22-points a piece. Knicks are currently on a two game winning streak.

Quickley, Rose, and Toppin are Stepping up

Immanuel Quickley and Derrick Rose have been phenomenal in the backcourt for the Knicks during their last three games together. The Knicks record with Quickley and Rose coming off the bench together so far is 2-1. The chemistry is obviously getting better and Obi Toppin is suddenly getting more touches due to Rose’s playmaking ability. Knicks announcer Walt “Clyde” Frazier already acknowledged Quickley and Rose as the dynamic backcourt duo.

Defensive Sustainability

Nerlens Noel is starting in place of Mitchell Robinson. Taj Gibson is coming off the bench for Noel. Tom Thibodeau trusts both big men on both ends of the court at the center position. Noel had three blocks against the Wizards on Friday night and two blocks to go along with 10-points on 5-6 shooting against the Rockets on Saturday night. The former Kentucky Wildcat protects the basket very similarly to how Mitchell Robinson does. Taj Gibson isn’t much of a rim protector, however, he’s always in the correct position on his rotations defensively. Taj also stretches the floor offensively, causing the game to be a little easier for the guards to make plays.

Frank Ntilikina Still Going Through the Health and Safety Protocol.

Frank Ntilikina of the Knicks looks on against the Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Frank Ntilikina has been the first Knicks player to go through the NBA’s Heath and safety protocols. According to reports, Ntilikina did not test positive for the COVID-19 virus, however, Ntilikina did have close contact with an individual that tested positive. The 22-year old native of France has been out the rotation for a month. Once Ntilikina clears protocols, fans shouldn’t be surprised if Ntilikina gets some playing time once he’s able to complete a number of practices with the team. The former 2017 eighth overall pick is another plus defender Tom Thibodeau has at his disposal. With the “next man up” approach Tom Thibodeau has instilled into this young hungry Knicks roster, don’t be surprised if Ntilikina finds another opportunity to crack the rotation at some point down the line. Frank Ntilikina’s name did come up during the Derrick Rose, Dennis Smith Jr, trade talks. It’s believed however the Knicks are saving Ntilikina and Kevin Knox for a potential trade later this season or during the offseason.

Overall, the Knicks are fulfilling the void so far for Mitchell Robinson’s absence. The young roster is playing at high levels on both ends of the basketball court. Tom Thibodeau has the team prepared on a nightly basis. Many are confused as to why the Knicks traded for Derrick Rose due to Immanuel Quickley’s minutes being valuable for development. However, Tom Thibodeau has been playing Rose at shooting guard while Quickley is still playing point guard off the bench. Spacing is even better for the Knicks second unit and having a former MVP going against other second unit bench players sounds like a winning situation every single night for the Knicks.


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