We’ve seen him run a fast break, soar higher than skyscrapers, and block shots 15 rows into the stands, but New York Knicks center, Mitchell Robinson, hasn’t given us a taste of the one thing he’s been promoting for over a year: a three-point shot.
Time for change
A mere four games in, the Knicks sit at 2-2, are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, and continue to look like a team that’s found it’s way by some act of divine intervention.
Julius Randle, who deserves all the praise he can get now, has turned himself into a new player since last season. Elfrid Payton has been making strides as well, and he needed to the most, as he was losing the trust of Knicks fans across the nation.
As days go by, there is evidence mounting that Head Coach Tom Thibodeau has certainly made his mark on the roster in practice, and one can only hope this is a precursor for change for a franchise that has, justly, become a laughing stock for 20 years.
By implementing changes to schemes on the court, and adding extra tools to their respective arsenals, the Knicks can shape themselves into a contemporary basketball team, which is really all Knicks fans want from the team at this point.
To accomplish becoming a modernized basketball, stressing three-point shooting is instrumental to the process.
Robinson, largely regarded as a rim-runner, shot-blocker, and everything else that could relate to a ’90s era center, has not attempted a single three-pointer in his NBA career.
Mitchell Robinson shooting threes after practice. He made 3 in a row after I stopped filming pic.twitter.com/Pzx0OhoCHS
— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) October 1, 2019
All offseason, Knicks fans watched videos similar to the one you see before you. Robinson can clearly and comfortably shoot jumpers, regardless of his wonky form. Now that the season is back in action, though, Knicks fans watch as Robinson allows his defender to give him miles of space but refuse to shoot!
There hasn’t even been an explanation pertaining to his lack of a jump shot in-game either, which is perhaps the most irritating part of the whole situation.
It’s as if in game action, Robinson is mentally disconnected from the physical world and he cannot assess that a defender is 20 feet away from him, leaving ample space to let it fly.
Nerves? Lack of focus?
I worry sometimes that Robinson securing the highest recorded FG% in NBA history may be a factor in his unwillingness to shoot.
I don’t blame players for eyeing accolades as a bonus to their potential future payout; In fact, securing the bag is necessary in this day and age. I just don’t see how expanding your tool bag of NBA skills wouldn’t benefit you more tenfold.
As of today, 100 percent of Robinson’s field-goal attempts come from within 0-3 feet of the basket, per Basketball Reference.
We’ve seen Robinson uncontested anywhere from 10-25 feet away from the basket dating back to his rookie season, yet he’s neglected the possibility of launching a jump shot.
It’s quite possible Robinson is worried himself about what could happen if he slings jumpers against the will of Thibodeau, though Thibodeau’s mentality regarding corner threes would lead me to think otherwise.
With how frequently players like RJ Barrett, Randle, and Payton drive into the paint, it’d be ideal to see Robinson space the floor out and clear the paint. Considering the corner three is the most efficient version of that shot, he can start from there and work his way up.
The time is now
At the time of writing, the Knicks are first in the league in 3PT% coming in at 45.9 percent. This is a big deal after finishing in the bottom three last season. No one expects the Knicks to keep this rate all season, but it’s a welcome change for a team whose spacing was egregious and embarrassing for 66 games last season.
Were Robinson to start capitalizing on mid-range jump shots, three-pointers, or any shot attempt other than dunks at this point, his role would be much more valuable overall.
As of now, his Offensive Rating per 100 possessions is at 121, without utilizing a jump shot in his repertoire.
Robinson taking shots from deep, while experimental at first, would diminish the team percentage as well as his own, but would amplify his impact on the floor in the long run without question.