While much attention will be paid to Kenny Payne’s relationship with Kevin Knox, his potential influence on Mitchell Robinson may be more important.
Success in the development of the Knicks great man will determine how quickly Leon Rose and company will be able to overturn a franchise that hasn’t smelled the playoffs since 2013.
Robinson has unlimited defensive potential, wiping out shots from both inside the paint and around the perimeter. He’s on the offensive side of the ball where he needs the most work. Despite setting a one-season record for the highest FG percentage last year, Robinson remains an extremely crude player with basketball in his hands – he can also use a lot of off-the-ball work to set up screens.
Payne is known as a “big man whisperer”, having great success working with both Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis while he was in Kentucky.
In a recent The Athletic article, Towns called Payne one of the key reasons for Kentucky’s success, highlighting his strength as a player development coach. In the same article, Davis credits Payne with developing his game in painting.
Mitchell Robinson has been a great success story for the Knicks amid several recent failures. It was a round two pick that blossomed into a great man with great potential. However, he has yet to take the next step to become a legitimate NBA holder. Payne could be the perfect development coach to help him get there.