Since being drafted with the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA draft, power forward Thomas Robinson has gotten off to a slow start to his career. But was a recent game against the Toronto Raptors a turning point for T-Rob?
On the surface, one wouldn't think so. After all, just looking at the box score, it appeared to be a normal game for Robinson. He scored five points, collected four rebounds, dished out three assists, had one steal and hit two-of-three field-goal attempts in 23:18 of action.
But if you watched the game, there did seem to be a difference in how Robinson went about his work. Already a player who plays at a frenetic pace, Robinson took that intensity to another level against the Raptors. He was relentless.
His two field goals were both ferocious dunks in traffic. His steal was in the open court against point guard Jose Calderon, with Robinson pressuring him when helping out on a Toronto pick-and-roll. To an extent, rebounds are rebounds, but Robinson was relentless in chasing down loose balls, and he converted his one offensive rebound into a putback dunk.
Don't just take my word for it. Jason Jones, the Kings beat writer for the Sacramento Bee, also took notice of Robinson's intensity during the game.
Now that's how T-Rob needs to finish in the paint...a two-handed dunk.— JasonJones (@mr_jasonjones) January 5, 2013
Later, on Robinson's putback slam, Jones remarked again about Robinson's relentlessness on his putback slam.
OK...this is what T-Rob needs to be doing. Rebounding and dunking. Nice putback dunk. Kings up 97-82, 5:24 to play— JasonJones (@mr_jasonjones) January 5, 2013
While I thought it was clear that Robinson was playing an implacable brand of basketball, what's even more encouraging is that Robinson acknowledged it himself following the game.
"I got away from who I am," Robinson said, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. "I've never been a 20-point scorer or played like that. I've always been a hustle guy, and I got away from that, and it didn't help me. I don't mind being that guy. That's what got me here, and that's what's going to keep me here."
"Yeah, it hit me," Robinson said. "I tried to fight it. Maybe it was just (Friday), maybe it's a new start, I don't know. I just know when I do get the chance from now on, I'm going to be who I am."
Whether this is truly a turning point in Robinson's career remains to be seen. That he acknowledged that he hasn't been playing his brand of basketball is troubling, on one hand. On the other hand, if he can get back to what got him drafted No. 5 overall, then that's certainly a positive step.
After winning four out of their last five, including two in a row on the road, the Kings finally appear to be on the right track. Keeping that momentum going will be difficult considering Sacramento has had a cupcake schedule of late.
If the Kings are to keep it up against quality teams, they'll need more production from players like Robinson. Which is why if this is truly a turning point for Robinson, it couldn't have come at a better time.
(Note: All stats are accurate through games played on Jan. 4)
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