Getty Images

New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau shared some positive news at practice Wednesday as he told reporters that big man Mitchell Robinson was a full participant at practice. That's a major development for the Knicks after it was reported back in December that he would be out for the season as he underwent ankle surgery. 

Thibodeau also suggested that when Robinson does return, which now seems sooner rather than later, he could come off the bench. That move would be a departure from him being the starting center for New York for the past two seasons, but given his injury history, it makes sense to ease him back into things and give him a lighter workload. But whether he's coming off the bench or starting, it's hard to see this as anything other than a huge beacon of light for the Knicks as they prepare for the postseason.

When healthy, Robinson is an excellent rim protector. He has held the Knicks' defense together over the past couple of seasons when their perimeter defense was lacking. Prior to his injury this season, he was leading the NBA in offensive rebounds (5.3), which still tops the league despite not having played since December. 

Getting Robinson back does wonders for New York's depth, who are still without Julius Randle and OG Anunoby. Though there were concerns about how the Knicks would fare without Robinson in the paint this season, his replacement, Isaiah Hartenstein has done a solid job of grabbing rebounds, protecting the rim and being efficient in scoring when he's tossed the ball. 

The midseason trade that landed Anunoby in New York also added forward Precious Achiuwa, who gives the Knicks another big body to throw into the lineup. With Robinson back in the rotation in the foreseeable future – and hopefully, Randle's return in the near future as well – the Knicks will have a really strong frontcourt rotation consisting of Harteinstein, Randle, Robinson, and Achiuwa.

We'll have to see when Robinson is fully cleared to return to game action, but this update is a massive step to getting him closer to that goal way sooner than originally expected.