A closer look at Thomas Robinson and a look ahead

I, like you, have not seen much of Mr. Robinson and thus, I’ve gone scouring the internet for highlight clips to get a closer look.

From the tape, you can get a sense of his attributes and abilities.  He clearly has an NBA-ready body and by all reports, is a tenacious rebounder.  That’s a positive for a Rockets team which got nothing off the glass from the two guys it just traded away.

The other thing that really stands out are the handles.  In the mix, when he was taking it coast to coast, it took me a while to realize that that was Robinson dribbling and not a teammate guard.  The Rockets probably envision him snaring the board off the glass and initiating the fastbreak himself.  If Royce White ever gets his act together, that would give the team two power forwards with that ability, making for a very interesting power forward dynamic.

The weaknesses are pretty evident.  Robinson has no semblance of a postgame and is overall much less skilled than Marcus Morris.  That’s not of much significance, however, as Morris wasn’t doing much with the skill that he does possess, for whatever reason.

Overall, Houston got a guy with much higher upside than the two they traded away, just simply due to his physical characteristics.  He’ll probably never be a low post threat, but he should help immensely on the boards.  Worst case, they added a quasi-blue chip asset to use in later trades.  Considering what they gave up, that’s really unbelievable.

Going forward, the big question surrounds the present situation.  I know it’s not of much relevance to the big picture, but the Rockets still do have a season to finish out and there is still playoff revenue to be earned.  You can understand why Kevin McHale has been otherwise surly; he’s not here to think about the big picture.

It’s for this reason that I’m almost shocked that Houston didn’t acquire some sort of veteran power forward to close out the stretch run.  Management is essentially asking Kevin McHale to hold down a playoff spot with nothing but three rookies at a very important position.  I debated with a colleague last night who contested that the guys Houston gave away weren’t exactly grisled vets; I disagreed.  The jump from Year 1 to even Year 2 is huge.  These rookies are essentially still sucking on their pacifiers.

BUT: The funny thing is that in the big picture, it really doesn’t matter.  In fact, it’s probably best for the long term to just throw out the rookies.  If you know you have over a 90% chance at making it, why give experience to someone who won’t be around?  But it completely defies all basic norms and conventions.  Cleaning house down a playoff stretch?  And that’s really the beauty of the Morey model.  It defies all common conventions.

The likely case is that Houston felt so good about its Parsons-Delfino lineup that it felt it could easily replicate the production lost from Morris/Patterson through Jones/Motiejunas/Robinson.  They will take a step back initially just simply because those guys don’t know the system anywhere near as well as Patterson did.  But the team plans to close out games with Delfino anyway, so it likely doesn’t matter.

It will be interesting to see if Robinson beats out Terrence Jones on the depth chart.  Stay tuned.


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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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