The upstart New York Knicks have had their first major setback of the season.
Knicks starting center Mitchell Robinson will need to undergo surgery that will keep him sidelined for four to six weeks after fracturing the metacarpal bone on his right ring finger on Friday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Robinson must have suffered the hand injury sometime during the first half of New York’s 109-91 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night, because the young center did not come back out for the second half, having been replaced by Nerlens Noel.
You could say that the fracture happened at the exact worst time for Robinson, with the 22-year-old in the midst of one of the best performances of his young career. Robinson had piled 14 boards, two steals, and a dime to go with 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field in 20 first-half minutes. It seems likely that he would have finished with career-highs in both points and rebounds if he had been able to finish the contest.
The Pensacola, Florida is important to the success of Tom Thibodeau’s new-look Knicks thanks to his knack on the glass and his defensive prowess, but we still tink there’s a ton of value on New York on Saturday night as -106 NBA odds underdogs against the struggling Houston Rockets. Houston has really missed Christian Wood, and the big man remains out, which is why New York’s moneyline could be one of the best bets for today.
After the game against Washington, Thibodeau clarified how the team will move forward in terms of replacing Robinson’s impact, indicating that most of the minutes now freed up at the five will be picked up by Noel, with Taj Gibson also getting extended run. Julius Randle and rookie Obi Toppin are also going to get some minutes at center depending on matchups and lineups, Thibodeau said.
The only player of note here would be Noel, who should be rostered in all fantasy leagues while Robinson is out. Noel has been averaging 3.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 0.9 steals in just 17.5 minutes this season, so expect all of those numbers to be juiced up for the next month, especially those defensive stats.
Before his injury Robinson had been having a solid season for the resurgent Knicks, whose defensive bent under Thibodeau has been a welcome change for Robinson. The youngster has responded with 8.4 points, 8.4 rebounds (career-high), 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 steals (career-high) per game on 66 percent shooting from the field in a career-high 28.8 minutes per game.
After mostly coming off the bench in his first two years, Robinson has carved himself out a nice spot as the starting center playing in the frontcourt with standout power forward Randle this season. Thanks to his emergence, it seems likely that New York will pick up his club option at just $1.8 million for next season. Could we be witnessing the birth of a serious NBA contender in New York for the first time this century?