The fifth time looks like the charm for Knicks center Mitchell Robinson.
In February, Robinson signed on with Rich Paul, the superagent who guides the careers of LeBron James and Anthony Davis and recently made the cover of Sports Illustrated for his influence.
Paul became Robinson’s fifth agent — one of the perplexing sidelights to Robinson’s fledgling career. So far, so good as Robinson’s game took off in the final weeks leading into the March 11 shutdown.
“When you get the right representation, there’s an ease that comes to your mind that allows you to focus on other things,’’ Paul told The Post in his first remarks regarding his new alliance with Robinson. “It’s hard to sleep with both eyes closed in this business. It’s a lot more mental than people think.’’
Helping with his mental approach is one of Paul’s aims with Robinson, who decommitted from Western Kentucky to train for the 2018 draft.
With his mysterious college withdrawal, Robinson fell to the second round — to the Knicks’ great fortune.
Paul said Robinson already is a “shot-blocking, rebounding machine,’’ but there’s more to becoming a winning player. If the regular season is canceled, Robinson, despite lacking a jumper, will set a new NBA record for field-goal percentage (74.2 percent), breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s mark.
“His growth comes with understanding how to play the game at this level,’’ Paul said. “That’s what’s misunderstood with young players. At this level, talent will get you only so far. You have to understand schemes defensively, very detailed things like the art of setting screens, the art in decision-making as a big man in how you roll. What passes to look for, proper defensive adjustments.
“It’s a lot of things to learn. Once he’s able to learn those things, he’ll then be in position to showcase other talents he has. He can take the outside shot, put the ball on the floor, post. You don’t want to rush into that. You have to understand the details of the game first.”
Robinson, who turned 22 on April 1, experienced an unconventional upbringing, raised by his grandmother in Pensacola, Fla.
“Not necessarily being a father figure, but I do think I can be a tremendous asset to him,’’ Paul said. “Not just his professional career, but life. I’ve been through a lot myself. I understand the trials and tribulations. He’s in a high-profile situation being on the Knicks. It’s a lot. I’ve spoken to him a lot about being a true professional.”
In Robinson, Paul saw a big opportunity to make an impact, even though the 7-foot center may not become a free agent until 2022.
“I take a deeper look at who someone can be as a person,’’ Paul said. “I felt like I can help him. A lot of times young players, they just don’t know. As an agent — and I don’t like the word — you get the perception that it’s all about money. And it’s not all about that. You have a unique opportunity to help someone build great habits on and off the basketball floor. A lot of times they’re in situations they can’t control, the economic environment they grew up in.
“Mitchell is unique in having a lot of upside and potential. He’s got a very high-level skill set and I think he’s just scratching the surface. He’s a smart kid and knows what he wants. And I think he’s maturing. I’m not here to bash anyone from before. I have this opportunity and plan on doing a great job for him.”
NBA players are having a tough time staying in game shape with gyms shut down due to COVID-19. There’s video footage of Robinson working on his game in a Louisiana rec center with a group of acquaintances. Paul is trying to get Robinson to use the time to watch game tape.
“We touch base on a lot of things like staying in shape during this time and ways to do it while social distancing,’’ Paul said. “We’re talking to the team about getting film so he can be a better student, to learn tendencies. The kid hasn’t been playing basketball that long.
The Knicks have done a great job in getting him things he needs.”
One of Robinson’s first agents, Raymond Brothers, negotiated a four-year, $6.5 million contract that instantly became team-friendly. The third and fourth years are team options, though it’s possible the Knicks can rework the terms after the 2020-21 season.
Paul and Knicks president Leon Rose have known each other since Rose served as James’ agent. Paul, a Cleveland native, was then part of James’ inner circle.
“He’ll shoot me straight when it comes to Mitchell and I’ll shoot him straight,’’ Paul said. “The Knicks know what’s best for him. They see him as a future guy. Leon knows the game. He’ll handle that properly.’’
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