Houston Rockets Free Agent Center #1 Mitchell Robinson
Mitchell Robinson shouldn’t be in this situation. He should have already received an extension from the Knicks, and he sure as hell shouldn’t be an unrestricted free agent. Robinson is a really good player, and he’s being treated like a reclamation project.
Just about every advanced metric thinks Robinson is at least an above-average starting center. Some think he’s an absolute stud (8th in win shares per 48 minutes), while others (39th in box plus/minus) believe he’s merely a borderline All-Star. The point is, a 24-year-old with consistent top-50 production shouldn’t be available to the highest bidder, but he is, and the Rockets should be aggressive.
Robinson’s game isn’t earth shattering. He’s an excellent rim protector and rim runner. He stops the most valuable shots from scoring, and he finishes the valuable shots on the other end. Basketball isn’t rocket science, and Robinson maximizes his impact in the simplest of ways.
If the Rockets were to sign Robinson, then he’d likely be their starter. He has no semblance of a 3-point shot, which makes him incompatible with Alperen Sengun. That’s reason enough to not bring him in, but it sells him short. Robinson could be this season’s Robert Williams III. An advanced analytics darling that finally gets enough game time for the world to see their impact.
Robinson looks like the real deal and is an unrestricted free agent. He’d add a vertical threat to their pick-and-roll game and greatly improve their defense. A starting lineup with Robinson, Jabari Smith, Tari Eason, Jalen Green, and Kevin Porter Jr would be the best defensive lineup the Rockets have had in years.
Chances are the Rockets won’t prioritize winning this next season and let someone else sign Robinson. He would make them better, but it would make it harder to see what you have in Alperen Sengun. This season is all about experimenting and experience for the young core. Robinson’s talent fits the Rockets, but his presence would push too many young players to the periphery. He might be the best non-Ayton center on the market, but the Rockets need to know if Sengun is a star in the making.