Thomas Robinson's (or T-Rob's) performance yesterday reminded me of his sophomore season back at KU. He looked like he was playing for something again. If you don't know or forgot about what happened in his sophomore season at KU, in a span of 3 or 4 weeks, T-Rob had lost his grandparents and mother. He never knew his father or his father's side of the family growing up. I remember him playing in the game against Texas, the day after his mother passed. It was a game that broke Kansas' 69-game home winning streak. Robinson never played the same again. Something sparked him (a great ESPN article about T-Rob here). You could tell that he was playing for much more than himself.
In Yesterday's NBA Summer League game, Robinson piled up 12 points and 18 rebounds. He was everywhere on the court at once. Running after boards on the other side of the court from him. He had his hand on every loose ball. It was amazing to watch. I couldn't help but remember his Kansas days where he started playing like a man possessed after his mother passed and carried that momentum into a dominate junior year. T-Rob struggled in his rookie season, some people think he is a bust. I wouldn't think to much of a dysfunctional (at the time) Kings organization trading T-Rob and all of his potential away. It was a move to keep Cousins happy (acquiring his Kentucky Wildcat teammate Patrick Patterson) and for the Maloofs to make some cash before the new Kings ownership came in. Nothing should be thought of the Rockets trading Robinson. I feel like a shouldn't even have to explain this but it was to clear cap room for some guy named Dwight Howard (you may or may not have heard of him). T-Rob is in the right mindset right now, shown in this interview after yesterday's game. He has his motor back and in playing mean again. T-Rob has overcome a lot and something tells me he will be just fine bouncing back from his rookie season.
He's in a great spot. Portland is a team who could make a playoff push and have their games count and also a team with no bench last year. I think Robinson fits right in as a 1st big off the bench who can give you rebounding and toughness. I think he tried to showcase his perimeter game too hard last year and didn't let the game come to him. I think taking just a few good shots and rebounding the ball in summer league is a good sign to his role going forward. He's a guy who improved a lot his last season in college, but his perimeter skills weren't quite up to par at an NBA level. His rebounding, strength and strong play is. I hope he can stick to that and let the rest come to him as he continues to improve and gain experience. I could see him being an 8 ppg 6 rpg guy off the bench next season.
We loved him in Sacramento. Hindsight is 20/20, and although Patrick Patterson will match our offense better now; make no mistake Thomas Robinson gets after it, and I believe Portland is a good spot for him.
TRob needs to focus on rebounding and defense, because that's what separates him from the pack, and that's what will keep him on the floor. His points will come on their own. He is athletic enough to be an alley oop target and has a reliable mid range shot. In the NBA, PGs will find you at your sweet spots. If TRob can get 30 mins, he's more than capable of peppering in 10-12 points a game.
I actually had the pleasure to meet Thomas yesterday in Vegas. He was in the middle of a phone call, but I needed a picture with him. Without hesitation he said sure and told whoever he was talking to to hold up, and took pictures with me and my two brothers. Most of the other players we saw weren't so inviting, such as Anthony Davis who seemed like he really didn't want to take a picture with us, but Robinson took three pictures with us all with smiles and with his arms around us and just happy to do us a favor. He's got a good head on his shoulders, and I hope he succeeds in Portland, especially since he's now a member of my favorite team. I'm going to be rooting for this guy from day one.
I really hope he makes it, he won me over with his NBA Draft interview. He wants to take care of his sister. He's definitely got a chip on his shoulder this year and if further moves are made such as Aldridge wanting out of Portland, he's got a shot to come in and get some notice.
Robinson needs to understand what his limitations are. He's playing like a guy who's trying to prove he can do things that he isn't good at. Even if this is summer league, he needs to stop pressing. The more he presses, the worse he looks. If he just keeps it simple, focus on rebounding, defense, setting big screens and making energy plays, he'll look better and the production will be there.
Portland tends to do a good job with big men if they stay healthy.
Just by looking at the box score he had himself another solid game today with 13/17...Nice work.