Atlantic Notes: Robinson, Boucher, Celtics, Thomas

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson won’t complain if he continues come off the bench, with Tom Thibodeau currently opting to start Nerlens Noel over the 22-year-old, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Noel, who signed with the team last month, recorded 10 points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes of action on Friday. Robinson started in just seven of the club’s 61 games last season, though many thought he’d crack the starting lineup entering this campaign.

“It is what it is,” Robinson said. “I’m going to go out there and play hard. I really don’t mind starting or don’t mind not starting. I don’t have hurt feelings. I’m just going to go out there and just be the best me.”

Robinson averaged 9.7 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 23.1 minutes per game last season. Upon being asked if he truly cares about coming off the bench, he gave a clear response.

“Not really. As long as I can go out there and help my teammates I really don’t care if I start or not,” he said. “It’s early. I’m not going to sit down and pout about it. I’m not going to make a problem or whatever. As long as I get to play, I’m fine with that.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Raptors plan to utilize Chris Boucher as the first big man off the bench in most games this season, head coach Nick Nurse said, as relayed by Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter link). Boucher added nine points, four rebounds and three blocks off the bench in the team’s preseason win over Charlotte on Saturday, logging 14 minutes of action.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic examines the Celtics‘ upcoming season, previewing their rotation, making predictions and projecting the team’s record entering the campaign. When healthy, the C’s are expected to sport the same starting lineup they used during the postseason, having also added players such as Jeff Teague and Tristan Thompson in free agency to bolster the bench.
  • Raptors guard Matt Thomas displayed his versatile scoring ability against the Hornets in his first preseason action, Chris O’Leary of writes. Thomas added 16 points and five assists in the win, shooting 5-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-7 from deep.
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33 thoughts on “Atlantic Notes: Robinson, Boucher, Celtics, Thomas

  1. Curtisrowe

    How is Boston going to sport the same starting lineup from last season with Hayward in Charlotte? He started every game he played in.

    • harden (mvp),wall, and wood

      But Smart was basically their 6th starter last season with 40 starts.

      • harden (mvp),wall, and wood

        Why not? Every depth chart I just looked at has Theis listed as the starter. You don’t need to have all of your top scorers in the starting five, someone needs to score with the 2nd unit.

      • Jeff Zanghi

        My guess is Theis does continue to start of Thompson… For one thing Theis is an exceptionally gifted defender and secondly I think one of the main reasons for bringing in Thompson is to bolster their second unit’s scoring ability — and I think Thompson is a better fit to play with the second unit thus allowing him to score more at least in the first half of games. What will actually be interesting is who Stevens winds up going with to close out games. Whether it’ll be Theis or Thompson at the 5 at the end of games… or if there are situations where maybe both of them are on the court at the same time to closeout tight games.

    • KnickerbockerAl

      Theis will start with Thompson. As it should be. Don’t see the issue here. Makes their D better. I think Celtics will take time adjusting to their O. Thompson is not Hayward on O. But he is a reliable scorer. He’s a double double machine. Other three quite capable of making up the points. Smart is their sixth man. Always has been. Romeo and Williams should be ready to give consistent mins. Celtics are ready to make a run. The East top 4 teams are all good. The East playoffs will be much tougher this yr. Celtics are contenders

  2. Robinson would seem like the right choice to start, but having him come off the bench could:

    -provide a spark/improve the second unit
    -keep Mitch fresh and not let Thibs run him into the ground
    -the Knicks will be terrible regardless, Noel is probably worse (in other words, tanking)
    -maybe Noel plays really well in extended minutes and they can trade him for a 2nd at the deadline or as part of a larger deal

    I don’t know. I would probably start Robinson, but it’s not like it matters a great deal (see the beginning of point #3 above).

    • Curtisrowe

      Last year, Noel per 36 minutes 14.3 points, 9.6 boards, 2.9 blocks

      Robinson per 36 15.0 points, 10.9 boards, 3.0 Blocks

      Robinson is 22, Noel is 26.

      I mean, does it really matter?

      • Robinson’s ceiling is higher and he pulled those numbers in his second year. More experience and time, hopefully progress and better numbers. Noel has bounced around and if he was good, would’ve stuck somewhere instead of signing with the worst team in the league.

        • hiflew

          I disagree that Robinson’s ceiling is higher. Noel’s potential ceiling has always been seen as higher. That’s why he was pick #6 overall and Robinson was a 2nd round pick. Now that is not saying that one or the other will be a better player when all is said and done, but it does show which guy scouts saw as having the higher ceiling.

          • Luckylefty2

            Draft selection goes out tbe window once these dudes step on the court. Noel has been the same player for 7 years now while robinson hasn’t even gotten a chance to fully develop yet. If I were to start a team right now and had the choice to pick the two(for my center position). I’m going with Robinson 10 out of 10 times.

            • siggers84

              I think it’s better for players to have to compete for their place in the team. Bit of competition.

        • Dxit90a

          Players Peak potential will show at age 28-29 . So both players have time to grow but Robinson has more time. Noel was in a bad situation in Phili because of embid . In Dallas he was good but turned down the long term contract which was a mistake . In okc he was a good player but again okc had other plans . Time will tell who is better .

      • harden (mvp),wall, and wood

        If anything Nerlens is getting worse, not better. Just because he went to Kentucky and was taken in the top 10 doesn’t mean he will ever be an awesome player like John Wall or Boogie Cousins.

    • KnickerbockerAl

      You don’t know …. is the only thing you got right.
      You should probably actually watch the gms. And let it play out. So you can know. Understand what a Rebuild is all about.

      • Jeff Zanghi

        This comment doesn’t even have/make a point other than to be a jerk to the original comment. If you’re going to go at someone… at least make a point. Like seriously… saying absolutely nothing except that the person should “watch the games so they ‘can know’ ” is just a really lame comment. C’mon… make an actual point or don’t say anything at all

        • KnickerbockerAl

          You just made the point. You want want on the critique band wagon. Watch gms so you actually know something. espn got your answers too. Say something intellectual at least interesting. And I will respond accordingly.

    • siggers84

      I’m not sure the Knicks will be as terrible as you think. Thibs will make them a decent defensive team. They’re not going to compete but I think they might make it to the play in tournament.

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    Mitch is the future. Thibs is here to make sure of that. Noel is here to make sure of that too. Noel is a solid bench big. And Mitch probably not ready to start yet. Still gets into foul trouble. I hope sometime this yr he establishes himself as the starter. What Knicks needed most coming into this yr. Was a good direction and traditional PG. It’s why I wanted Halliburton so bad. A real PG will run offense and get easier shots for young team. It’s why they talked Chris Paul. But we don’t need a 35 yr old doing that. Then you can not pass on Toppin. He could be best in draft. At least best PF in draft. They will workout the PG situation. By trading two of them. Even Knox is getting a long look this yr. It’s still a rebuild yr for Knicks. I’m just seeing who will play his way into Thibs good graces. And who Knicks could trade for. And who Knicks can draft in a deep draft class. Can’t tank this yr. And Thibs won’t do it. But if playoffs are out of reach. I play the to see who I’m keeping. Not worry about record. The lottery this yr will have very good players. We could even trade up for a PG or SF. Just want to see Thibs get control. And keep the right players. Team make progress. In a 70 gm season. 30 win season is not a lot to ask. More important is progress of our key players.
    Quickly who I like. Needs to play in NBDL. Has to play PG and at least learn to play it. At his size it’s the best position for him. It’s how he can help us best. But needs to play, mins. Not sit on bench for two yrs.

  4. Jeff Zanghi

    The Celtics can’t use the same lineup they used for the entire playoffs because… Gordon Hayward is no longer on the team… lol… I realize Smart started when Hayward was out with an injury… but otherwise Hayward started most of the playoff games he was healthy for — so just but the simple fact that he’s gone means they can’t possibly use the same starting lineup — though I assume the post/article means they’ll be using the same sans-Hayward lineup they did during the postseason. However another issue with that is that Walker is expected to miss the start of the season… so once again… they can’t actually use the same lineup. In fact with both Walker and Thompson out to start the year… it will be interesting to see who winds up being the Celtics 5th starter to begin the year. They could go with Teague so they have a true PG in the starting lineup (vs Smart starting at PG) or they might prefer to go slightly bigger and utilize start one of their PF’s allowing Tatum to play the 3 (to start the game anyway). Will be interesting to see while they await the return(s) of Walker and Thompson.

    • Luke Adams

      Hayward only started 1 of 17 playoff games (he came off the bench after returning vs. Miami), but you’re right about Kemba. I’ve added a “when healthy” caveat to the post to account for that.

  5. Jeff Zanghi

    I’ve always thought Noel was someone who was capable of more if given the opportunity/minutes. Seeing as they’re going to start him over Robinson (at least for now) — I think he has the potential to surprise a lot of people and put up significantly bigger numbers than he has in recent years. I’m no Knicks fan but I think that Noel could easily average a double-double if given the opportunity to play enough minutes. And maybe even be capable of scoring 15+ PPG were he to play more like 28 MPG vs the 18 or so he saw last year. At the same time though Robinson who’s only 22 years old certainly looks capable of putting up those numbers as well. Will be interesting to see how the minutes break down between the two… but like I said I’ve always thought Noel was capable of more if given the opportunity.

    • Luckylefty2

      I hate it when people mention “opportunity” and noel in the same sentence. Hes had PLENTY of opportunities. He has never had touch or ball skills and never will. He’s basically poor mans mitch Robinson.

  6. Jeff Zanghi

    Matt Thomas looks like a guy that could really develop into a weapon for the Raptors… he shot 48% from 3-pt last year and based on his international stats it definitely wasn’t just a fluke. As a Non-Raptors fan (Celtics fan) — this guy scares me as someone who could really emerge and be a dangerous weapon off the bench for them basically scoring at will if he can keep up even remotely similar 3-pt % shooting. Kind of surprised he went so long overseas before getting shot in the NBA given that he seems to be able to shoot 45% from 3 in his sleep. Definitely a guy to keep an eye on who could emerge as a serious weapon should he make it into the Raptor’s regular rotation.

  7. Jeff Zanghi

    Chris Boucher looks like a guy that could really breakout this year if given the minutes to do so. His numbers per 36 minutes are already VERY impressive and he totally DOMINATED the G-League averaging 28 PPH and basically 5 BPG. At 6’11” having him be the first big off the bench seems like it’ll be quite the challenge for opposing teams to match up with — especially if he can maintain any semblance of the scoring ability he demonstrated in the G-League or the 20 PPG /36 Mins he already averaged last year. Between him and Matt Thomas the Raptors seem to have a solid group of relatively unheralded young players who could really emerge as difference makers in the rotation making them just that much more dangerous and deep.

    • Luckylefty2

      Boucher doesnt have the body to play “quality” minutes(on a nightly basis) the other night he drew 5 fouls in 14 minutes. He is a big you use depending on matchups. Hes got overpaid because of a weak free agency class.

    • KnickerbockerAl

      He’s listed at 6’9” and 200 LBs. 200 LBs is guard size. Not thick either. Meaning he is not close to a big. And to use NBDL stats on NBA players. Will get you fired faster than spreading virus to everyone. That /36 mins stat is amusing to me. Cause 80% of the players they use it on. Will never play 36 mins in NBA.

      • x%sure

        That’s a lowbrow understanding of the 36′ grid on Bas.Ref.
        The attempt there is to compensate for differing minutes played when comparing players.
        It can fail if a player moving up to fulltime minutes becomes less efficient as he becomes tired. Javale McGee for instance has asthma.
        The 36′ stats have been improved on. But it is better than basic stats, especially for bench players.

  8. I'm a starboy not a Dr...

    Theis is gonna start over Thompson??? Can’t be serious!

    • KnickerbockerAl

      They both start. Watching Kemba is more worrisome. Seems like this is lingering too long. They need to get on top of this. Not let it be an issue for the season. They’ve known since the playoffs. Need to get this right.

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