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Player Report Cards: Thomas Robinson

A look at the rookie power forward's debut season for the Houston Rockets 2012-2013 season.

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday we reviewed Donatas Motiejunas and we are fast approaching the end of the player report card series. I'd like to say it's been fun but I won't lie like that. When we're looking at the roster we have three players left who warrant consideration for this series. Aaron Brooks, Terrence Jones, and Thomas Robinson. All three of these players saw some time and contributed something. Royce White is exempt from review because he's inherently exempt from most things Rockets related. So let's go for broke and bring up the guy in the news.

Thomas Robinson was acquired at the trade deadline along with Francisco Garcia for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas, and Cole Aldrich. Robinson was the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and went to the NBA's black hole, Sacramento. While in Sacramento he was a raw player cast into the NBA and told sink or swim. Upon his arrival in Houston his minutes were reigned in and he saw limited action before ultimately being benched by Kevin McHale rather than continue to develop him as a liability during a playoff push.

The Numbers

Robinson appeared in 70 games in his rookie season averaging 15 minutes a game (19 games with Houston at 13 minutes a game). He averaged 5 (4.5 with Houston) points, 5 rebounds (4.1 Houston), and 1 block (.7 Houston) a game.

Robinson saw his usage (19.1% to 20.8) tick up while in Houston but he did so while turning the ball over (19.5%) at a clip that would have made a James Harden and Jeremy Lin lovechild jealous. The biggest contribution Robinson had to offer was his 17.1% rebounding rate (21% of available defensive rebounds found their way to him). For comparison sake Asik has a 22% total rebound rate and a 31% defensive rebounding rate. By combining the two of them over half of all rebounds available would be pulled down by these two side by side. Robinson posted a defensive rating of 107 meaning he gave up 107 points per 100 possessions. For a comparison that will make people mad in the comments, Kevin Garnett posted a 107 defensive rating his rookie season (It's down to a 99 now). Robinson's true shooting percentage is a paltry 45% on the season and definitely needs to see an improvement.

The Good

Athleticism. Robinson is an athletic freak. Robinson measures in at 6'9" tall, 240 pounds, and has a wingspan measuring 7'3". You can't teach height but you can't teach wingspan and elevation like the guy has. He has a standing reach of 8'10" and a maximum vertical of 35 inches. Robinson's biggest contribution is his ability to finish above the rim and travel to it in the air. He's a player who by all reports is wholly coachable, wants to learn, and has the tools to succeed. Since he has the raw materials and we grade our categories on the aspect defined...

Grade: A+

The Bad

Offensive moves. He doesn't really have any. He came into the league as a player with a great deal of athleticism and defensive aptitude. Robinson was a raw player and when he saw time on the floor it showed. He flashed the mid range game but when he caught the ball in the post he showed a lack of moves. If anything Thomas showed more of an inclination towards the face up game. If he can hit the mid range consistently and lock it down he game could show aspects of Lamarcus Aldridge. Unfortunately for Robinson when you're just hyper-athletic it's tough to warrant playing time since that trait needs to translate to something and he didn't have the offensive or defensive foundation really laid out to make it work.

Grade: C-

The Ugly

Turnovers. Robinson's hands were awful and he turned the ball over a considerable amount. The fact that he was turning the ball over roughly 20% of the time he was in control of the ball is a major indictment to his rookie season. If Robinson sticks around with the team they'll need to work on his ability to catch the ball and do something with it. He often got himself in trouble putting the ball on the floor. That's a flaw that will need to be corrected or he'll need to work on moving better without the ball. Ultimately though, since he was a turnover machine...

Grade: F


I had initially promised myself that I was going to give Robinson an I on the year but since I did grade Motiejunas who saw comparable minutes I have to do the same for Robinson. Long term projections I look at Robinson like a puppy with huge paws. It's not a question of if he grows into them but when and how. In the scheme of the power forwards on the roster he brings less to the table immediately. It's worth emphasizing immediately. Motiejunas and Jones bring more to the table in their rookie seasons to earn time and that's not worth disputing. Long term with development, however, Robinson projects to be the better player because you can't teach the athletic capabilities he has. You can acquire a shot, you can learn defensive rotations, you can learn post moves, but you can't learn a 35-inch vertical and 7 foot wingspan. Robinson's grade is necessarily focused on the fact that he wasn't acquired for this year and his production only reinforces that point.

Grade: D-

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