Mitchell Robinson is running for Defensive Player of the Year

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is drawing interest in Defensive Player of the Year honors, according to Newsday’s Steve Popper (subscriber link).

As Popper writes, the 25-year-old actually thwarted the No. 1 pick. 1 overall Victor Wembanyama on national TV earlier this week, with the French phenom going 0-for-6 with Robinson as his closest defender. Robinson also made a strong impression nationally in last season’s playoffs, dominating the court in New York’s first-round series against the Cavs, who feature a “much-touted” big-two lineup.

Coach Tom Thibodeau is always eager to discuss how well Robinson has played, especially pointing to his net rating, Popper adds. The Knicks are plus-7.6 when Robinson is on versus -1.3 when he’s off, for a net rating differential of plus-8.9 – the team’s second-best rating among rotation regulars.

“His defense is unbelievable,” Thibodeau said. “ Excellent pick-and-roll defender. Rim protection. Defensive rebounding. Multi-effort guy. He has really come a long way.

“ It’s been constant growth. I think if you look at it, for me, probably the most important stat is the net rating. The scoring margin, the net rating, indicates the impact on winnings. So if you look from where it was four years ago to where it is today, great strides have been made and the impact on winning is the most important thing.”