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Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson has highest block average for a rookie since Tim Duncan

mitchell robinson

New York Knicks rookie center Mitchell Robinson had just turned 21. The Louisiana native has been one of the few bright spots on a 15-62 Knicks roster, displaying a natural shot-blocking ability not seen since Spurs legend Tim Duncan showed up in San Antonio.

With six games left as of this writing, the second-round pick is on pace to become the first rookie in NBA history to average at least 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 60 percent from the field. As pointed out by Marc Berman of the New York Post, Robinson’s block average is the most for a rookie since Tim Duncan’s 1997-98 mark of 2.51 per game for rookies who played at least 40 contests.

Robinson had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four assists and three blocks against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. He has recorded at least one block in 34 straight games, two in 25 straight games, and has already set the Knicks franchise record for most blocks in a season by a rookie. The last time he failed to block a shot was on Dec. 12 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He is the second-best shot-blocker in the entire league, trailing only Myles Turner, who averages 2.7 blocks per game. He also leads perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidates like Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis, even though Turner, Gobert, and Davis are averaging at least 28 minutes a game, and Robinson averages fewer than 20 minutes on the floor.

A reason that number is so low is in part due to Robinson’s propensity for fouling. Robinson elected not to play organized basketball last year, which caused him to slide into the second round of the draft. At the season’s start he regularly fouled out and looked tired on the court. However, he’s improved his conditioning, and although he still occasionally commits baffling fouls, he’s improved his ability to stay on the floor.

New York has the third worst defensive rating this season, at 113 points per 100 possession, but with Robinson guarding the paint that may turn around in coming years.