Mitchell Robinson has a thankless job. As a Tom Thibodeau center, he is tasked with anchoring New York's defense while rarely participating in a Knicks offense that is suddenly among the best in the NBA. His minutes can vary wildly from game-to-game, as in March alone, he has played as many as 44 and as few as 21 minutes in different games. That 21-minute figure came Tuesday in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers, and afterward he shared his frustration with his role on Snapchat.
"Tired asf of just being out there for cardio fam," Robinson said on his Snapchat story after the game. "Like I want to play basketball to really just wasting my time and energy."
Whether Robinson actually deserves a bigger role on offense is debatable, but the numbers make it clear how rarely the Knicks get him the ball.
Robinson touches the ball 26.4 times per game, which ranks ninth on the Knicks despite him being a full-time starter. Over 41% of the 4.8 shots Robinson takes per game come on put-back opportunities, and 53.4% of his shot attempts have been dunks. He is one of only two players in the NBA playing at least 25 minutes per game to have a usage rate below 10%, and the other is P.J. Tucker.
In other words, the Knicks run almost nothing for Robinson. They expect him to screen, rebound, pass and dunk offensively. That's about it, as the bulk of his role for them relies on defensive excellence. He is getting paid handsomely for that role, as the Knicks signed him to a $60 million contract last offseason, but big men are rarely satisfied with such limited jobs no matter what they are making. In the past, teams would frequently run a token play or two at the beginning of games for their big men just to keep them involved and engaged on the other end of the floor, but that practice isn't as common anymore.
Robinson tweeted after the Snapchat incident, saying "Life's a climb but the views great. Goodnight!" The 41-30 Knicks are currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings and are in line to reach the postseason for just the second time in Robinson's career. His defense and rebounding has been a big part of their success, but it seems as though he'd like the Knicks to show him some appreciation by actually giving him the basketball a bit more.