At 5’8’’, it is easy to get overlooked in a league dominated by gargantuan six and seven footers.
Enter Nate Robinson.
The Golden State Warriors, desperate for depth at point guard with their budding star Stephen Curry ailing with an ankle injury, gave Robinson another shot by signing him to a one-year deal earlier this month.
Robinson has had a renaissance in Oakland, providing the Warriors with an explosive spark off the bench in both scoring and assists. After appearing in just four games with the Thunder last season, Robinson is averaging 11.7 points per game and a career high 5.1 assists in 27.1 minutes per game through 10 games with Warriors.
Bench production has been a problem for the Warriors this season, especially with the departures of last year’s top bench scorers Reggie Williams and Al Thornton to free agency. Even as Curry returns to health, the Dubs should continue to utilize Robinson as the team’s bona fide sixth man.
While Robinson’s scoring numbers are not that surprising (he averages 11.3 points per game for his career), what stands out is his remarkably improved assist tally.
Prior to the season critics were skeptical of Robinson’s lackluster ability to pick apart defenses, averaging just 2.6 assists per contest throughout his NBA tenure. It may be that head coach and longtime Knicks point guard Mark Jackson has stressed sharing to his backcourt this season, as Monta Ellis’ assist numbers are up as well (6.9 to last season’s 5.6).
Nationally renowned as the league’s only player to win the Dunk Contest three times, Robinson brings to the Warriors both athleticism and playoff experience. His herculean 24 point effort against the Miami Heat helped propel Golden State to a thrilling 111-106 overtime win over the reigning Eastern Conference champs.
Robinson has seen his minutes diminish with Curry reinserted into the starting line-up, but he has remained just as efficient while on the court. In 19 minutes in last Friday’s loss 94-91 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Robinson had six points on 3-6 shooting to go along with five assists.
Tuesday’s one-point heart-breaker to the Grizzles featured Robinson on the court for just 12 minutes but still netting five points and six assists to go along with three rebounds.
If the Warriors want to play competitively, Robinson needs to be a bigger part of the equation.
Jackson needs to rework his rotation to get Robinson more playing time. The Warriors are 0-4 when Robinson scores under ten points, so his contribution is paramount to the team’s success.
Perhaps a resurgent Robinson alongside a healthy Curry can help turn the Warrior’s dismal season around. Regardless, Robinson has been one of the few bright spots on this roster so far this season and should be a key player as the season rolls on.