Thomas Robinson at least appreciates his opportunities when they present themselves. The four-year NBA veteran has bounced around the league upon leaving the University of Kansas, donning five separate jerseys since being selected with the fifth pick of the 2012 Draft by the Sacramento Kings. After stops in Houston, Portland, Denver (technically), and Philadelphia, Robinson clearly saw the limited depth of the Brooklyn Nets as an asset this summer in free agency – along with a two-year contract for the vet’s minimum that contained a player option for the second season – and is finally receiving the playing time to make his case for NBA permanence.
Minutes were scarce to begin the season under head coach Lionel Hollins, with Robinson appearing in just 9.5 minutes per game and in 32 of his team’s 37 games before the organization dismissed their head coach on January 10th. With Tony Brown on the bench in an interim basis, he’s increased his per-game average by six minutes and still missed four games – including three in a row just two weeks ago – due to “DNP-CD’s”, but there’s no question that Thomas Robinson has seized upon the void left by the shut down of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, and played like the best Brooklyn Net on the floor heading into the season’s end.
In Friday’s 99-113 road loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Robinson was all over the offensive glass, snatching 12 offensive rebounds (of his 17 total boards) and scoring 16 points in 31 minutes. The 17 rebounds would tie his season-high from a March 5th blowout loss in Minnesota (also without Brook and Thaddeus), while his 12 offensive rebounds would be the third-highest output in a game this season, behind the 13 of Tyson Chandler and Alex Stepheson. The extra possessions would allow Robinson to draw eight free-throw attempts and convert on 7-of-16 shots, before ultimately fouling out on a charge late in the fourth quarter.
Robinson will continue to survive at the NBA-level due to his high motor and effort alone, along with active hands that seem to only manifest on rebounding opportunities (and not on layup or put-back attempts). He’s still young enough that his physical attributes – namely speed and agility at 6’10” – help to overcome the mental mistakes, and he’s exposed against any top-notch offense due to his overeagerness, but at age 25, there’s still some naivete to his game. Given the tumultuous and transitory start to his NBA career, perhaps stability could be the missing component to finally unlocking that lottery potential that’s transfixed six franchises already.