Knicks, Hartenstein is proving to be the best defender

In the early part of the season, there was no player as dominant in the NBA as New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson in the restricted area. He was an offensive rebounding machine, knocking down rebounds and creating extra possessions at a higher rate than entire teams.

Defensively, he was the anchor of Tom Thibodeau’s scheme. Equipped with rim protection, Robinson also did work as a pick-and-roll defender with his length shutting down passing lanes and shot attempts on the perimeter. So when it was announced that he would be sidelined for at least 8-10 weeks due to ankle surgery, many wondered how the Knicks would react in his absence. Unfortunately, playing without Robinson is something the franchise has a lot of experience with as he has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.

While he had experience filling in for Robinson, actually replicating his production and impact on the field would prove difficult. There aren’t many players capable of doing what he did this season, but it appears the Knicks had someone capable of doing it as a backup. Isaiah Hartenstein started in place of Robinson and the team’s production didn’t decline much. At the beginning the defense had its problems, but then they were solved. The addition of OG Anunoby in a trade by the Toronto Raptors will definitely help.

Along with Anunoby, the Knicks also acquired Precious Achiuwa, who will help with their lack of frontcourt depth. He should be a more impactful player than Taj Gibson and Jericho Sims provide.