Like most rookies, Thomas Robinson has had his share of ups and downs. At times he shows why the Sacramento Kings selected him with the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Other times he tries to do too much on the court, causing him to look lost.
There are definitely areas for Robinson to improve throughout the rest of the season and into next year. However, his play has been more consistent of late, causing many Kings fans to have a more positive outlook on the rookie's future.
Either way, it's still extremely early in T-Rob's NBA career, so the final product may look completely different than what we've seen so far. That said, here are midseason grades for Robinson in all of the categories that matter most.
If there was one area where Robinson could stand to improve the most it would be in his scoring ability. Now, scoring the basketball isn't everything; there are plenty of effective NBA players that aren't prolific scorers. Robinson may ultimately fall into that category, but it's too early to tell for sure.
He's certainly shown flashes of the skill set required to be a good scorer. He has the strength to bang in the post, the explosiveness to get to the basket and, at times, shows signs of an emerging offensive repertoire. The problem is that it's only been flashes up to this point, and nothing with any consistency.
In this case, the numbers don't lie. Robinson's only averaging 5.0 points per game. Furthermore, his 11.2 points per 36 minutes shows that it's not just a reflection of a low scoring average due to a lack of playing time. His career high is only 12 points, and he's only scored in double figures in seven of his 47 games.
One thing to like about Robinson is that he knows his strengths and weaknesses. As with any young player, there are times he tries to do too much. But for the most part, he sticks with what works when it comes to his shooting.
Because of his strength and athleticism, plus a lack of a consistent jump shot, Robinson does most of his work near the basket. On shots at the rim, or in the restricted area, T-Rob shoots 48 percent. Considering his proximity to the hoop, you'd like to see a higher shooting percentage. However, what is encouraging is that 68 percent of his shot attempts have been taken in that zone. So at least he takes his most effective shot with the most frequency.
The same can be said of his shots in the paint (but outside of the restricted zone). On such attempts he is shooting 46 percent, which is pretty much in line with the 48 percent he posts at the rim. The only knock is that only 10 percent of his shots come from that quadrant. Considering he's fairly effective in that zone, it would be nice to see more shot attempts.
As for his mid-range game, it's pretty non-existent at this point. Thankfully, he doesn't try to force the issue. So even though he only hits 31 percent of his mid-range shots, those shots only comprise 21.9 percent of his shot attempts.
Overall, Robinson has taken 171 of his 219 shots (78 percent) either in the paint or at the rim, of which he's converted 48 percent. So, while his effectiveness may diminish the further he gets from the hoop, he doesn't force the issue by jacking up shots that are unlikely to go in. That certainly counts for something.
Considering his position of power forward, developing a better mid-range game isn't necessarily a necessity. But it would add to his repertoire, making him a better overall scorer.
Robinson's actually been one of the better defenders on the Kings so far. On one hand, that's obviously good. On the other hand, Sacramento isn't particularly good on defense, so it's somewhat misleading.
T-Rob's opponent counterpart 48-minute production is also below average. When guarding power forwards, Robinson allows a PER of 19.1. In the few instances where he's played center, his opponent PER is 26.4. With league average being represented at 15 in PER, it's clear Robinson is behind the pace of most NBA defenders.
He shows flashes of brilliance like his three-block performance against the Indiana Pacers or his two-block, one-steal night against the Wizards. And his averages of 1.1 steal and 1.0 block per 36 minutes show he can be a disruption on defense. But like with virtually every area of his game, he needs to do it on a more consistent basis.
Rebounding has been Robinson's most reliable skill throughout the season. His average of 10.2 rebounds per 36 minutes trails DeMarcus Cousins (11.4) and Tyler Honeycutt (10.7), who's only played a total of 27 minutes all season.
The same can be said of T-Rob's rebound percentage of 16.2 percent, which also only trails Cousins and Honeycutt. He's been particularly effective on the offensive glass, posting an offensive rebound percentage of 11.5, which is tied for second on the team with Cousins.
For the most part, Robinson's aptitude on the glass can be attributed to his incredible motor. That relentlessness, along with his size and skill set, is one of the main reasons he was drafted so high in the first place. It also helps ensure that he can impact a game by doing the little things that don't always show up in the box score.
In some respects, Robinson's decision-making is one of his stronger points. As was previously mentioned, his ability to stick with what works on offense, and not force what doesn't work, is a trait not many young players possess.
In other ways, however, he's still got a lot to learn. Most important is his inability to avoid turnovers. Sometimes these manifest themselves in ill-advised passes, while other times they're an indication of him trying to over-extend with his ball-handling.
Robinson's turnover percentage of 19.1 percent is second worst on the team, trailing only Tyler Honeycutt, whose 27 total minutes aren't enough of a sample size to glean much from, good or bad.
Robinson's clearly made strides over where he started the season. After averaging 4.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.6 blocks and shooting 41.5 percent over his first 30 games, he has seen an improvement in nearly every category.
In the 17 games since, Robinson is averaging 6.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.5 blocks and shooting 47.9 percent from the field.
Most importantly, he's seen his playing time escalate from 15.3 minutes per game over the first 30 games to 17.5 since then.
Now, none of these statistics, even the most recent ones, are incredibly promising for Robinson's future. What they do show, however, is that T-Rob is improving, even if it's at a snail's pace. The fact that his improvement in production coincides with his increased playing time shows that the coaching staff is taking notice.
How do you feel about Robinson's rookie season so far?
Admittedly, his progress and production has been below what one would expect out of the fifth pick in the draft, especially one like Robinson who played three years in college. But if you learned anything from watching him in college, it should be that he improved every year after starting out slow during his freshman campaign.
The NBA is a whole different animal, so just because he slowly adapted to college, it doesn't mean the same thing will happen in the NBA. But the fact that he is improving, even if it's at a slow pace, should be more encouraging than discouraging.
With more playing time and seasoning over the remaining 35 games, the hope is that T-Rob can take the same sort of jump he took over the last 17 games. If he does that, his overall stat line still may not look too promising, but it would be an indication that he's continuing to develop, which is all you can ask of a rookie.
For now, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt because of the strides he's made of late. But he needs to continue that over the rest of the season; otherwise his rookie year could be an ominous sign of things to come.
Overall Grade: C-
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