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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Total comments: 6
  • thejohnnygold says 9 months ago I think my favorite part is the hustle--specifically, in the video when they showed him being the furthest away but being the first guy down to the other end over and over. Given the Rockets' impetus to get down the floor and score that alone makes him an asset. He naturally wants to get down there and has the ability to finish off a pass. That plus the rebounding and defense are good enough for me.

    Someone made a great point in an article I read...I forget now, but they were talking about Dwight having always played in a slow-tempo offense with Van Gundy. Now that he is in LA with D'Antoni and his up-tempo style it's creating problems. It gave me pause when considering a potential max deal for him....it actually makes me lean back towards Josh Smith as I think he would fill this role very well.

    A starting 5 of Lin, Harden, Smith, Robinson, and Asik....with Beverley, Anderson? Parsons, Jones/Motie/G. Smith combo bench rotation could be stellar....imagine parsons and D-mo running pick and rolls with G. Smith cleaning the glass and Anderson spotting up for 3's....I can dig it. That is when we aren't scoring off fast breaks and out-running opponents.
  • Stephen says 9 months ago The problem w/hi-light packages is they just show the good.
    Robinson gets 1 out of every 10 shots blocked at the rim. Not good.
    The negatives said about him are poor hands and a sense of entitlement.
    He does have a decent 15-18' jumper and Pat would routinely get several baskets a game popping to baseline or near FT line for an open J.
    I don't see him as a future starter,but as a Carl Landry third big type.
    He does go hard after rebounds,not content to just get the ones that come to him,so hopefully when Asik sits he can carry the rebounding burden.
    But man,is he a rookie. Does all the stupid rookie things,forcing passes,stupidly fouling guys trying to get rebounds waaay too far away,jacking up bad shots,goes out of control on drives,gets lost on defensive rotations. Pretty much the standard rookie mistakes,but since he does play hard,they seem to stand out more. Most will correct w/experience,but he has a ways to go.

    On an amusing note-to me anyway-before he was drafted there was some columnist who said Robinson might not want to mention in GM interviews that he backed up Marcus Morris at Kansas. Ouch,double ouch!
  • Alituro says 9 months ago As a fan, I don't think it's prudent to ditch all of our long term vision for this season's playoff rally. It'd be nice to make it, re-energizing the fanbase, but to rent a player for the second half of the season with only that goal in mind doesn't make since to me. Especially since we're almost a lock anyway. As the article stated we all know T-rob has the abilities required, let's give him a chance to integrate and see what he can do. Morey is pretty much amazing with what he pulls out of his hat. We now have two top-5 talents from last years draft (granted one is a basket case), and a pocketful of trade chips should the opportunity arise.
  • idiotfan says 9 months ago Here's why Daryl traded for this player: he's a finisher. Houston moves the ball very well and they don't really need him to post up. Houston is the highest scoring team in the league and they do a very small percentage of their scoring posting up. They need a pick-n-roll finisher who plays with power around the basket. They need a guy that the guards can ally-oop to. I don't think I've seen a single classic-style ally-up from the Rockets this year, and the guards can deliver the passes if they have a guy who can get up there and finish. Defensively, the tape shows that the guy is willing to play D, and has the physical attributes for a good defender. He can get better. He doesn't have the size to dominate defensively, but you couple him with Omer who is a big body in the paint, and you've got something. I hope they keep him instead of trading. I think they will.
  • timetodienow1234567 says 9 months ago I watched him in college, and he looks like he's lost some weight. I think he was around 245-250 in college. That video shows him like he's a bit lighter. He has some hops. Until he puts on a lot more muscle, I could see him getting a few minutes at SF if he develops an outside jumper. We could go big with him at the 3. Just thinking about pick and rolls with him and Harden or him and Lin, makes me think that he'll average 15 points / 10 rebounds a game if he gets 30 minutes a night.
  • Chichos says 9 months ago I think Robinson has the beginnings of a post game. Those left handed spins off the glass are not easy with a defender on your hip. But it should be noted that is supposed to be his counter to a running hook in the lane... Not sure why his counter is so much better then the easier jump hook.

    He also runs the floor really really well. That will get him some spot minutes pretty early on, McHale loves hustle and both highlights showed tons of hustle.

    The big downside for the Rockets is that all those highlights were around the rim and that is not where we want our PFs most of the time. I think sharing time with Donatas/Parsons at the 4 while he plays the 5 is an intriguing idea in stretches. But he needs that outside shot to reach his potential.