Coming Up Short

“With the fifth pick overall in the 2012 NBA draft, the Sacramento Kings select Thomas Robinson from Kansas University.”

I grimaced. I wasn’t sure about the pick.

I think he will be a good player. I just dont think he will be a player worth the fifth overall pick. The fifth pick should yield at least a borderline All Star. However, there isn’t a single undersized power forward on the NBA All-Star roster.

The draft experts called him the most NBA ready player due to his:

  • Nonstop motor
  • Rebounding
  • NBA body
  • Athleticism
  • Soft hands and quick feet (helping him finish around the rim)

I have watched a couple of Kansas games this year and I was impressed. He hustles and runs the floor. His motor also allows him to be a great rebounder. They say that rebounding translates on every level of basketball.

Thomas Robinson does have a great physique: big frame and long arms (7-3 wingspan). However, he barely stands 6-9. He has a long wingspan which makes up for his standing reach but an undersized big man is still never a good thing. There is a reason why height is considered so important.

He is also not an elite athlete. He is slightly more athletic than the average big man who is 6-9. People say that he measured the same vertical as Blake Griffin in the combines. But we all know that Blake Griffin and Thomas Robinson aren’t on the same level in terms of athleticism.

The biggest concern is that despite his lack of size and athleticism, Thomas Robinson plays like a true power forward. He dominated the college level because the other players were less athletic and smaller than the NBA players (the margin is wide). In the NBA where everyone is athletic, I see him as a below the rim player trying to play above the rim. He also doesn’t have the offensive repertoire to make up for his weaknesses (unlike, say, Jared Sullinger). He doesn’t have a solid post game and doesn’t have great dribble-drive skills.

Those issues were apparent during the summer league games. Thomas Robinson looked more like a small forward. Now, I understand that he might have been trying to show some versatility in his game; shying away from how he usually plays. But most of his shots still came from near the rim.  Yet, he only converted 34.4% of his shots. His soft hands and quick feet weren’t enough.  Many of his shots were blocked. When he wasn’t getting blocked, he was being bothered by the more athletic and longer defenders. He didn’t have the skill to put the ball on the floor and utilize his quickness (contributing to the 4.8 TO). How is he going to score on the likes of Kevin Garnett, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Tim Duncan if he has trouble scoring against borderline NBA players?

Summer League stats do not always translate to the season (i.e. Derrick Rose). However, the reasons he struggled are far different from those of Derrick Rose. They are fundamental problems that are hard to fix. You can fix a shot but you can’t grow 2 inches.

Rookie year projection (average per game):
8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, .5 steals, .5 blocks, 1.5 TO, 47% FG, 75% FT.

NBA player comparison: Darrell Arthur


photo credit: Tom Ziller, Jonathan Santiago


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