Mitchell Robinson explains benefit of unusual midseason weight gain

HOUSTON — Knicks center Mitchell Robinson hasn’t developed a 3-point shot or mid-range jumper, but he has developed his body.

Robinson revealed at Monday’s morning shootaround at Toyota Center that he’s put on 10 pounds – mostly muscle – since training camp.

The 21-year-old believes the added weight has made him stronger on the court, especially defending players down in the block. It’s unusual for a player to gain weight during a season — usually they lose it.

“It will help a lot,” Robinson said. “My post defense is better than it was. I was 240 – now I’m 250, solid. I feel good about that. I added five pounds of muscle from what (a strength coach) was telling me. It’s also helping me stay out of foul trouble a bit.”

Robinson has increased his weightlifting from last season, with encouragement from veteran Wayne Ellington. “I’m in there every day – me and Wayne, the vet,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s ilk as a traditional defensive center is starting to become outdated, with Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets leading the small-ball philosophy. Houston recently traded big man Clint Capela, to whom David Fizdale compared Robinson when the Knicks drafted Robinson in the second round in 2018.

Mitchell Robinson Knicks
Mitchell RobinsonRobert Sabo

The Rockets now go without a traditional center, using P.J. Tucker at the position.

“That’s their business,” Robinson said. “I’m with the Knicks, not the Rockets. I don’t think so (as a continuing trend). I think it just happens. (Houston) just doesn’t have bigs. Everyone else has one. That’s just how they like to play with all the guards.”

In this season of misery, the 7-foot-1 shot-blocker still is a bright spot even if his progress was expected to be larger in scope.

Robinson still refuses to shoot – much like Capela – other than putback layups and dunks, as well as alley-oop slams.

Still, Knicks coach Mike Miller credited Robinson mostly for turning around the game Friday against Indiana with his active two-way game when the club fell behind by 22 points in the third quarter. The Knicks still lost, but Robinson gained, scoring eight points with four blocks in 18 minutes.

“Yeah. I’ve been having great practices since we came back from All-Star,” Robinson said. “I’m just trying to bring great energy. It starts with that. It’s been great.”

Asked if he sees the Fizdale comparison between Robinson and Capela, Miller said: “I think Mitch is an elite roller. He has established himself offensively. He’s an elite level because of the things he can do, not only his physical abilities, but he really executes the fundamentals of setting those screens and rolling out, getting to areas. So Capela is a good roller as well, so I can see where people would make comparisons. They have some similarities and some differences in there. But I think you look at guys that are really good rollers and they’re put into a category.”

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