NBA Draft 2012 Results: Thomas Robinson Will Be Draft's Biggest Difference Maker

Darin Pike@darinpikeContributor IJune 30, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 28:  Thomas Robinson (R) of the Kansas Jayhawks greets NBA Commissioner David Stern (L) after he was selected number five overall by the Sacramento Kings during the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at Prudential Center on June 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Several teams made moves that should significantly improve their rosters headed into the 2012 NBA season.

While the New Orleans Hornets might have done the most to improve their team, no player will have a bigger immediate impact on his new team's performance than Thomas Robinson.

Despite a 22-44 record last season, the Sacramento Kings have a strong young roster:

DeMarcus Cousins, PF: 18.1 PPG, 11.0 PPG, No. 5 overall pick in 2010
Marcus Thornton, G: 18.7 PPG, Round 2 draft pick in 2009 by Miami Heat
Tyreke Evans, SF/PG: 16.5 PPG, No. 4 overall in 2009
Isaiah Thomas, PG: 11.5 PPG, Round 2 in 2011
Jason Thompson, C: 9.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, No. 12 overall in 2008

With a solid backcourt, the Kings needed some help up front.

Robinson is one of the most complete players in the draft and could be the most pro-ready player after a breakout year for the Kansas Jayhawks. The Kings had Robinson second on their draft board and were afraid he'd be gone before their pick.

According to Josh Dubow of the AP, Sacramento was understandably thrilled to add him to its squad:

[Robinson] was one of the top couple of talents in the draft overall, particularly at his position I thought even as of this morning we were fairly sure he would not be at five. That's why the draft is the draft.
We certainly have a need there as far as our depth up front. He's going to bring a lot of competitive spirit, he's a ferocious rebounder. He has a lot of speed. He'll be a great addition to the team.
Geoff Petrie, Kings president of basketball operations 

They Kings moved Evans, the 2010 rookie of the year, to small forward last season. His production was down, but Thomas played well at point guard.

Thomas kept 2011 first-round pick Jimmer Fredette in a reserve role. However, Fredette's 7.6 PPG and a .386 field-goal percentage also factored in to his playing just 18.6 minutes per game.

Defense was the Kings' biggest issue last season. They surrendered a league-worst 104.4 PPG and struggled with rebounding.

Robinson will help in both those areas. He can play as a true small forward in the NBA.

He led the Jayhawks to the NCAA national championship game against the Kentucky Wildcats, averaging 17.9 PPG and 11.8 RPG in 31.8 minutes.

Robinson had 27 double-doubles, best in the NCAA, in 39 games as a junior.

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Robinson is his size. Ample at 6'10" but slight at just 237 lbs, he'll need to bulk up to keep from getting bounced around in the NBA.

Still, look for Robinson to be yet another scoring threat for the Kings.

He can shoot from the outside, but is a real threat in the paint.

Most important, he's a strong battler on the boards and should help the Kings reduce the number of second-chance points given up to their opponents.

Robinson has an outside chance to be the best player in the 2012 NBA draft but figures to be the rookie that most helps his team change its fortunes next season. 

With improved defense and the presence of another true big man, Sacramento can be a playoff contender.


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