The frontcourt was not considered to be a position of strength for the New York Knicks with the absence of Kristaps Porzingis. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke are proven commodities in the backcourt and were supposed to lead the team until Porzingis returned from injury.
Enes Kanter was expected to be the rock in the interior and has been solid for the Knicks to start the season. He’s second on the team at 14.9 points per game and is shooting 54.1 percent from the floor. His biggest contribution is on the offensive glass as he is fourth in the NBA with 109 offensive rebounds. Kanter’s ability to generate extra possessions for the Knicks has given them the opportunity to compete against the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
His defense has improved from last season, but he is still a bit of a liability in the post. He can hold his own at times when defending the paint, but he is not the rim protector that the Knicks need defensively. Rookie Mitchell Robinson has been the shot blocker that the Knicks have needed as he is tied for eighth in the NBA in blocks with 45, despite playing only 17.3 minutes per game.
His shot-blocking numbers are even more impressive considering that he is the only player in the top 10 to play fewer than 24 minutes a game. Robinson’s offensive game is very raw as most of his baskets come from either lobs or putbacks. His lack of offense at this stage is not that bad, considering Kanter is one of the league’s better offensive centers.
Kanter’s refined offensive game pairs nicely with Robinson’s defensive instincts as the duo compliment each other perfectly. Robinson will need to develop more of an offensive game as the season progresses, but his main purpose is to help the Knicks’ defense. They need him to stay on the court as he leads the team with 3.3 fouls per game and has fouled out of three games this season.
If Robinson can consistently stay out of foul trouble, the Knicks will contest more shots around the rim as Noah Vonleh is the only other player on the roster to average at least one block per game. Head coach David Fizdale understands that Robinson is a rookie who did not play a competitive game of basketball last season and is trying to ease the 20-year old into the NBA.
Kanter has always been known for his scoring and Fizdale hopes that Robinson will be able to absorb some of the Turkish big man’s game on the low block. The center duo of Kanter and Robinson is definitely flawed, but they are a good big man tandem and are one of the league’s better position duos that nobody is talking about.