After the Sixers trades of Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels, it seemed as though fans would be bereft of talent worth watching. That was until Thomas Robinson came along. Philadelphia claimed him off waivers from Denver, and the team seemed to have some new talent worth watching. Robinson was the perfect guy to take a flier on: a former top pick with raw and unfulfilled talent. It seems to be working thus far.
Through four games in Philadelphia, Robinson is averaging 9.5 on 46.9% shooting and 7.3 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game. He's done a lot of good, but there are a couple aspects of his game that aren't very confidence instilling.
What I Like
- If there's anything that has translated from his time at Kansas, it's his ability to be a freak rebounder. He's averaging 16.1 rebounds per 36 minutes, and a total rebound percentage (number of rebounds available that he pulled down while on the court) is 24.4%, both of which are pretty crazy. These aren't just open space, ball falls in my lap type rebounds, they're grown man type boards, with over 45% of his rebounds being contested. We knew Robinson was a good rebounder even from his limited time in the NBA, but nonetheless it's still nice to see.
- For the most part, Robinson is really good at scoring after pulling down offensive rebounds. He either goes right back up, or takes one dribble to re-establish himself, then finishes off the glass. There's no waste of motion, and very little timidity (which he had some issues with in his prior stops), Robinson's actively seeking to score in the low post.
- His motor -- that word is super cliché but it fits here -- is like no other. Robinson's everyone on the floor, from jumping in the stands for lose balls to diving on the floor for others. He only plays hard. For a town that loves their blue-collar type players, Robinson fits in pretty nicely.
What I Don't Like
- Robinson's never met a shot he hasn't liked. There are numerous occasions where he'll take a contested layup in transition instead of laying it off to one of the guards running the floor with him. Even when working in the low block, he doesn't even think about trying to kick it out to his teammates. He has a pretty serious case of tunnel vision, and I'm not sure it's correctable.
- He has this weird infatuation with his jump shot. When I watched him out in Las Vegas Summer League, not only did he look bad in general, but most of the shots he took were a 10-15 foot jumper. He didn't even try to assert himself in the paint. While he's shown super-brief-lightning-quick-if-you-blink-you'll-miss-it type flashes he could be a good mid-range shooter, he's shooting less than 30% from outside three feet for his career, It's a dangerous habit for a young guy like Robinson to get into, especially because he's not that great of a low post scorer. Which brings me to my next point...
- Robinson isn't really that good of a post scorer to begin with. ShotAnayltics.com says he's only making 58% of his shots around the restricted area, which for a power forward is not good. He moves well and has good upper body strength, but his post moves are still so raw that he's still relatively easy to stop. Looping that back to my point about his mid-range shooting tendencies, Robinson should work on perfecting his game around the restricted area before trying to extend his range.
- He struggles super hard at the foul line. While Robinson did shoot over 68% from the line his final season at Kansas, it hasn't translated to the NBA. He's shooting just 52.6% for his career, and 46.8% in time split with Portland and Philadelphia this season. Because he can't really finish in the post, knocking down shots at the line becomes all the more important. Otherwise, he's just dropping points all over the board. Not to mention, his struggles at the line calls into question his ability to acquire that mid-range game.
Robinson definitely has a future in the league, but it's most likely in a limited capacity. There's a lot of good that he can do, mostly when it comes to rebounding, but his game definitely has a lot of holes. Of course, Philadelphia is the perfect place for him to work on fixing those holes, as the Sixers coaching staff has worked minor miracles in the past. The number one thing Robinson needs to focus on is improving his low post game before anything else. He's an unrestricted free agent this summer, and if he can correct some of his passing and shooting issues, then he's worth bringing back. He takes a lot of the rebounding pressure off of Nerlens Noel, and could play as a small ball five if need be.
Robinson likely won't command much on the free agent market, so a two-year pact with Philadelphia in the ballpark of $3 million a year seems suitable for both sides.