Impact of Mitchell Robinson returning to the Knicks

With Robinson out of the lineup due to his ankle injury, Isaiah Hartenstein has stepped up for the Knicks in a huge way. Hartenstein played 65 games this season, averaging 7.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while shooting 63.2 percent from the floor. The 25-year-old big man kept the Knicks’ frontcourt in check with Robinson out.

Now that Robinson is on the verge of returning, the Knicks will suddenly be a much deeper team and will have options for how they want to build their rotations. Since he has been gone for just under four months, Robinson will be back in action. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Knicks stick with the core rotation that led them to one of the best records in the Eastern Conference, resulting in Robinson coming off the bench once he returns to the court.

The Knicks are currently 43-28 this season, a full game ahead of the Orlando Magic for the 4 seed in the East and just a half game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 3 seed in the conference. While the Knicks hold the season tiebreaker over the Cavs, the Magic have a 3-1 head-to-head advantage over New York this season. Tiebreakers will play a factor in how the Eastern Conference playoff picture looks.

To have as deep a postseason run as they hope, the Knicks will have to rely on their depth and size. Hartenstein, who has been very useful and impactful at the center position, led the frontcourt with Precious Achiuwa, who has stepped up in a big way in recent weeks. Both Hartenstein and Achiuwa have been active on the glass, as has Josh Hart, who is one of the best non-frontcourt rebounders in the entire league.

While it’s unknown what coach Tom Thibodeau will do with his rotations in terms of splitting minutes, Robinson will provide the Knicks with another reliable presence in the paint on both ends of the floor. You can never have too many players who create scoring opportunities as second chances, and that’s exactly what Robinson brings to the table come playoff time.

Currently listed as questionable for Wednesday night’s game against the Raptors, Robinson is expected to play after having his status updated. The team will provide a formal announcement on his status later in the day.