Knicks' Derrick Rose has high expectations for young stars Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett

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Barrett and Robinson blue jerseys
Barrett and Robinson blue jerseys

The Knicks are already in good hands with the young talent in their locker room.

But Derrick Rose, who knows a thing or two about being a young NBA superstar, thinks the sky is the limit for Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett.

With Robinson's elite rim protection, Rose thinks he has the potential to be the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year.

"I played with guys that won a Defensive Player of the Year, and I feel like Mitch has that ability once he gets healthy to win that one day," Rose told reporters on Monday.

Rose was visibly emotional when he found out about Robinson's fractured foot in that night's postgame interview, so it's not surprising that Rose is ecstatic that Robinson will be back in the rotation.

“It was great seeing him out there (on Friday), man, especially with his presence. We missed him last year, of course, in the playoffs playing against a team like that (the Atlanta Hawks) with [Clint] Capela and everybody. ...

"You always gotta keep an eye on him, if you’re a guard or you’re a player going in the lane, and now it’s just working on his conditioning and just getting the flow of things. We’re happy to have him back.”

With Robinson's new bulk, Rose thinks he can be a terror for defending guards.

“He’s a big guy. It’s just gonna come the more he plays, the more he’s gonna get used to setting screens in different ways and making sure that he hits people, like that’s old school basketball right there, where you're laying wood on a guy every time you set a screen, and over the course of a game, that’s tiresome for a guard to keep fighting over a guy like Mitch. I’m happy that he’s on my team, and he’s a talent."

As for Barrett, who had his fourth-year option exercised on Monday, Rose said no one knows what his ceiling could be.

“His confidence and taking a challenge on the defensive on where we don’t have [Reggie Bullock]… so he has to take the matchup every night. It reminds me (of) old school where he can’t run from any matchup. He's gotta take up the matchup and not only do that but produce on the other end. So if anything, it’s gonna make him a better player and he’s willing to take that challenge. He has… crazy goals, and it’s great to see a young player be that confident about his game.

“...He can be as great as he wants. It’s all about just putting in the work like he’s doing and the team just believing in him and him going out there and being efficient.”

Rose, Robinson, and Barrett will start their quest for for another playoff appearance on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden.