GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson will need a major support structure around him as he begins his NBA career, and that career could begin in the NBA G League.
The book on the 7-foot-1 Robinson from multiple coaches and those close to him is that he is a talented and good kid with some major maturity issues. He hasn't played organized basketball since the McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic Games in April 2017, and opted to train on his own this past season instead of enrolling at Western Kentucky, where NBA scouts could have evaluated him. The Knicks ended up taking a flyer on him at No. 36 in Thursday's NBA Draft.
"We know we have a situation that can help embrace him, find ways for him to grow off the court and on the court," Knicks President Steve Mills said Friday when Robinson and fellow rookie Kevin Knox were introduced. "We know we have a group of coaches and an environment that will help him grow."
Multiple people who know Robinson said he will need a support structure in New York to deal with the lifestyle, the media and the transition to the NBA.
"He needs to be away from his people so he can mature, he's a good kid," one Division 1 assistant coach familiar with Robinson told SNY.tv. "He's talented and raw. He has defensive instincts and his physical traits are impressive. He's 7-feet with a 7-4 wingspan. With a young organization, he's worth a roll at No. 36."
Mills and GM Scott Perry saw Robinson live in his high school all-star games, while head coach David Fizdale has not. But Fizdale compared him to Houston star Clint Capela. "He was as standout," Perry said. "[The] most athletic big in the class we felt." Still, everyone agrees Robinson will need to develop in summer league and training camp to even have a shot at making the opening-night roster.
"I think a lot of that is going to be determined by how much Mitchell progresses over the summer through summer league and how he looks in training camp," Perry said. "Obviously, coach Fizdale will have the final say with that. If he's ready to play with the Knicks, he'll play with the knocks. If he needs more time, then the G League will be an option."
Robinson was a man of few words at his opening press conference, saying he chose to train this past year instead of enroll at Western Kentucky and play for coach Rick Stansbury.
"The decision was made because I felt I needed to focus on basketball for my career and to get where I want to be moving forward," Robinson said.
Asked what he's been doing to train the past year, he said: "I didn't really play any pickup games. I did a straight workout every day from 9-5 every day all day."
Perry stepped in to defend the young man as he awkwardly answered questions from the media.
"The young man is dedicated to the game, we know he wants this," Perry said. "It was a conscious decision he made to go about this path and I don't think he's the first guy to do that. He ended up here today and he's ready to get to work for us."