The Daily Blast – February 25, 2013

The Frightening Question – This weekend, The Painted Area asked the question that a lot of fans don’t want to face– “What If Thomas Robinson Just Isn’t That Good?” My answer to that question comes in two parts, but first, an excerpt:

Overall, Robinson rates a fairly dismal 23rd among rookies in PER (10.9) and 26th in EWA (basically PER taking total minutes into account), despite being one of the older, more-experienced rookies taken in the lottery. What’s more, when I open up my trusted copy of Pro Basketball Prospectus by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, I find that the translated stats from Robinson’s junior season projected his production as an NBA rookie pretty much dead on – with very good rebounder and very inefficient scorer being the two headlines. (Though it is worth noting that Robinson’s stats from his sophomore season, when he played far fewer minutes, give him a more favorable projection.)

The post also points out that T-Rob has had 10.8% of his shots blocked this year (although DeMarcus Cousins has also had about 10% of his blocked, and no one doubts that he’s an NBA talent). Anyways, if Robinson isn’t good, that means two things. One, it means that the Rockets just squandered a hard-working guy in Patrick Patterson. That’s obvious. Two, it means that a large percentage of talent evaluators across the league were just plain wrong. A columnist for the Sacramento Bee also expressed doubts about Robinson’s ability:

Some things can be taught and some things never change.

Maybe Robinson will harness his energy and athleticism and become an adequate NBA role player. Or maybe not. But that doesn’t excuse the Kings for bypassing Weber State point guard Damian Lillard, failing to ascertain Robinson’s weaknesses before ranking him second on their internal draft board, using the No. 5 pick on him, and then compounding their error by trading him to Houston on Wednesday and receiving little in return.

The columnist also expresses concern about his basketball instincts, hands and “brooding nature.” But on the idea of “some things can be taught,” I would submit that shooting (Patterson’s signature skill) is one of those things, while rebounding (Robinson’s calling card) cannot.
Space’s John Schumann analyzes the trade from the standpoint of what Robinson’s presence could do to the Rockets’ spacing:

Houston is the ultimate pace-and-space team. They play the fastest tempo in the league and they keep the floor spread, allowing James Harden and Jeremy Lin to attack the basket off of pick and rolls. Patterson and Morris played their part as stretch bigs.

At the time of the trade, 13 of the Rockets’ 15 most-used lineups included either Patterson or Morris, who attempted about 60 percent of their shots from outside the paint and accounted for about two 3-pointers per game.

Kevin McHale admitted to having seen very little of his new rookie, but he knows that Robinson isn’t that kind of player.

Fringe – Hardwood Paroxysm gave some love to Greg Smith in their ongoing series about players at the fringes of the NBA:
According to Smith takes 86% of his shots inside the paint, at a .669 clip. 25% of his shots are dunks, which he finishes a fairly respectable .949. The man is a finisher, there’s very little doubt about that. At 6-10, 250, he’s a lot bigger than his athleticism would suggest, often forcing awkward fouls, which he draws on 19.8% of his shot attempts. His rebounding, which isn’t the flashiest, would rank very highly if he met the minutes floor. His Offensive Rebound % is 12.3, which would put him in the top 15 in the NBA this season.
The Man With the Eagle Tattoo – Rahat has discussed at length this weekend the rise of Donatas Motiejunas. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the guy who was daring Dwight Howard to catch him, and explaining the significance of this eagle tattoo.  But it’s great to see that his faith in his ability to dominate has never waned. From the Chronicle:
“My goal is not to be a starter,” Motiejunas said. “My goal is to be the best I can possibly be. I want to develop some of my skills that no one has developed in their lives. I want to develop something that no one has. I don’t know what. I’m working at everything. I want to be good at everything. I want to be the best at my position. I’m a long way from that. I’m taking the challenge.
You can’t teach motivation.
P.S. – One last tidbit from the Chronicle–Chandler Parsons is now the longest-tenured Rocket:

“It’s crazy,” Parsons said. “I’ve only been here for like a year and a half. It’s a huge honor to still be here.”

Already Rockets captain, Parsons was made the team’s Players Association representative Friday after a brief meeting with acting executive director Ron Klempner and vice president Jerry Stackhouse.
Toney Douglas, who had been Rockets player representative, was traded to the Kings on Wednesday.

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