Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
After working on his 3-point shot all summer, Mitchell Robinson plans to let it fly from beyond the arc this season.
"Why work on something you're not going to use? I'm looking forward to it," the second-year center said after the first practice of Knicks training camp.
Robinson didn't attempt a three last season but worked on the shot in practices over the course of the year. That work ramped up over the summer. Robinson is now ready to show his range.
"I'm shooting the thing now," he said on Tuesday.
Just how often Robinson gets to shoot from beyond the arc will ultimately be up to his teammates and coaches. But the idea that Robinson feels comfortable shooting from distance is probably encouraging for New York.
The 20-year-old showed last season that he's one of the top young shot blockers in the NBA. If he can develop a perimeter shot and continue to improve on defense, Robinson will have two skills that every NBA team covets in its big man.
It's just the first training camp practice, so we're a long way from that point. But Robinson's perimeter shot will at least be something to keep an eye on in the preseason.
Fizdale says Robinson's more disciplined on defense: Robinson, like many rookie big men, was hurt by foul trouble early in his first season. In general, his foul rate decreased over the course of the season. Knicks head coach David Fizdale expects it to continue trending in that direction in Year 2.
"He's more disciplined," Fizdale said Tuesday. "Multiple times, guys tried to get him up in the air and he did a great job of staying down on shot fakes and keeping his hands out…. He's really coming into his own and understanding how he can be effective in the league. Because this is now his second lap and I think he's more comfortable with what he's facing.
"His strength and his post defense is much better," Fizdale added. "Early on last year the bigger guys would give him problems because they would back him down. But he's a lot tougher to back down now."
Defense first: the Knicks worked extensively on their defensive concepts Tuesday. Last season, New York finished in the bottom third in defensive efficiency and won just 17 games. When he was asked about his defensive strategy on Tuesday, Fizdale said there will be some changes this season.
"We experimented a lot last year," the coach said. "We looked at a lot of different stuff, what fits best for our team. We feel like what we're doing now is the best package for them."
On paper, the Knicks have a lot of offensive talent. But aside from Robinson, Frank Ntilikina and Kadeem Allen, they don't have many players who scouts would consider strong individual defenders. Can they come together as five-man units to get stops? That will be one of the questions surrounding the club early in the season.
One principle you can expect to see from New York this season? Pressure in the backcourt. Fizdale said the club worked on that in their first practice.
"The bigs, the wings, and the guards had to defend each other one-on-one full-court live," he said. "Just to get them to understand we have to play defense like that to have a chance to win games."
When asked if the Knicks would be pressing teams often this season, Fizdale said, "I don't know if you want to call it pressing but we're going to pick up. Wayne Ellington declared it this summer that we have to pick up 94 feet. That goes for everybody. If your man's bringing the ball up, you've got to get up there and meet him and have a defensive presence on the ball. Some of these (opposing players) are so dang fast you don't want to be up there trying to press them because they'll go by. But we've got to build the habit now if we want to be a top defensive team, we're going to pick you up."