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Mitchell Robinson, the New York Knicks starting center and the anchor of their defense, sustained a left ankle injury in a loss against the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
Robinson will undergo surgery and he’s expected to miss 10 weeks of action while he recovers from the injury. The Knicks hope to evaluate him in eight weeks, when they will have a better idea of when he’ll return to the lineup.
The Knicks have one of the best defenses in the NBA, allowing only 109.7 points per game. Robinson is the focal point of their stifling defense. He breaks up opposing pick-and-rolls and generates fast breaks by creating turnovers via steals or blocked shots.
Robinson is a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden because of his blue-collar work ethic. He is a true rim protector and rebounding machine. He’d rather play defense and crash the boards than worry about how many points he scores on a nightly basis.
Robinson averages 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game in his sixth season with the Knicks. He only scores 6.2 points per game, and gets buckets mostly on put-backs from the offensive glass.
Losing Robinson for the next couple of months is a huge blow to the Knicks. Backup center Jericho Sims will slide into the starting lineup, and versatile big man Isiah Hartenstein will log more minutes off the bench.
Next Man Up: Jericho Sims, Isiah Hartenstein
Hartenstein is a key part of the Knick’s second unit as a tenacious offensive rebounder with a nice outside shooting touch and stellar passing skills. He averaged 18 minutes per game off the bench before Robinson’s injury. Monday night against the Raptors, Hartenstein scored 11 points and added eight rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench.
Sims played well last season when filling in for a banged-up Robinson. He started 16 games and averaged a career-high 3.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Sims started Monday night in the first game without Robinson. He scored two points and hauled down seven rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
If Sims falters this season, the Knicks could seek help on the trade market. The Knicks caught a glimpse of a pair of big men in a victory against the Toronto Raptors last night, including center Christian Koloko and power forward Precious Achiuwa.
Other potential trade targets of the Knicks include Kelly Olynyk (Utah Jazz), Wendall Carter Jr. (Orlando Magic), Daniel Gafford (Washington Wizards), and Day’Ron Sharpe (Brooklyn Nets).
Veteran center Taj Gibson is a free agent who has yet to sign with a team this season. Gibson is an ex-Knick and has close ties to head coach Tom Thibideau, which is why he’s on the shortlist of potential replacements.
Before Robinson’s injury, the Knicks were linked in numerous trade rumors involving a trio of All-Stars. Karl-Anthony Towns from the Minnesota Timberwolves, forward DeMar DeRozan from the Chicago Bulls, and center Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers have been the subject of trade chatter over the last few months.
Knicks on the Futures Market Sans Robinson
The Knicks are now 13-9 and currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division. If the season ended today, the Knicks would earn the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Last year, the Knicks secured the #5 playoff seed in the East with a 47-35 record. The Knicks picked off the #4 Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round in only five games. The #8 Miami Heat defeated the Knicks in six games to advance to the conference finals.
The Knicks are -360 odds to make the playoffs, and +285 odds to miss the postseason. The Knicks have a win total of 45.5 over/under for this season.
The Boston Celtics (16-5) have the best record in the Eastern Conference, and they’re the betting favorite to win the Atlantic Division at -475 odds. The 76ers are the second divisional favorite on the board at +350 odds, and they’re ahead of the Knicks (+3500), Brooklyn Nets (+18000), and Toronto Raptors (+30000).
The Knicks are +6000 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA Championship, but they’re in the middle of the pack on DraftKings’ NBA futures board.
The Knicks are +2500 odds to win the Eastern Conference title, which they have not done since the 1999 season.
During the In-Season Tournament, the Knicks qualified for the knockout stage with a 3-1 record. The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Knicks last Tuesday in the quarterfinals, and they failed to advance to the semifinals in Las Vegas.
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