clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pass or play? 25-year-old, hungry, but (still) unproven Thomas Robinson

New, comments

It's that time of year: when front offices look over their rosters and ask, should we keep him or move on. Anthony Parisi is looking at the Nets players who may or may not be back: Pass or Play.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes in the NBA all you need is a chance. Thomas Robinson is (somewhat) happy that he's getting a chance to play big(ger) minutes and he's played well, at least in terms of raw numbers. He's had four straight double-doubles. Robinson has long felt that he's never been given a fair chance to prove himself throughout his four-year career and to him it's all about the minutes.

Robinson has seen an increase in minutes over the past week and the numbers are certainly impressive. Over the past four games, playing an average of 27 minutes per, Robinson has collected a double-double each game,  averaging 13.3 points, 12.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Robinson is also shooting 51 percent from the field over that brief stretch.

The numbers are undoubtedly impressive but according to Robinson if given these minutes consistently, stats like this can become a routine. "It's about time I become a 20-plus minute player," Robinson said after Sunday's game. "I haven't played over 13 minutes my whole career. To me, it's BS. But I'm trying to put that out there that it's about time I become a 20-minute plus player."

Despite Robinson's recent comments and his improved stats, maybe there's a reason he never played in 20-plus minutes per game.  Robinson is ranked 95th out of 99 eligible NBA power forwards in plus-minus and the Nets have been outscored by 12.2 points per 100 possessions when Robinson is on the floor, that is the worst of any Net with at least 400 minutes played this year, as ESPN and The Brooklyn Game have pointed out.

Robinson has a tendency to do too much at times, but is that because he hasn't played a lot of minutes and he's trying anything possible to prove himself? Markel Brown had a similar problem earlier this season but once the minutes stabilized, he stayed within himself and played much better.

Also for Robinson, bouncing around from team-to-team hasn't made things any easier for him. Brooklyn is his sixth team in four years -- Houston, Sacramento, Portland, Denver, Philadelphia and now the Nets. He had his best numbers in a post-deadline 22-game stretch with the 76ers, but even he admits, Philly had limited interest in him after averaging 8.8 and 7.7.  He does relish his chances now.

"It's the end of the season, and the minutes are there, but there's not one (game) I played 20-minutes plus and I not have a double-double." Robinson said with a bit of exaggeration. That statement is true over his last four games, but over the season he's played in over 20 minutes eight times and has six double-double's. Close enough.

But Robinson has problems that more minutes haven't solved. In that four-game sample, TRob shot a miserable 7-of-22 from the line. That's 31.8 percent.  He's also averaging 2.8 turnovers per 36 minutes, a high number for a power forward.

Moreover, he still hasn't developed anything close to a perimeter jumper.  And let's assume he, Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young and Chris McCullough are still on the team next year, how many minutes can he expect to play?  Nowhere near the 27 minutes he's getting in the past week.

Robinson has a player option of $1 million for next season that he hinted he will most likely exercise this off-season. Robinson may exercise his option, but he made it clear that he wants to stay in Brooklyn.

"I just want to see what my options are. I want to stay in Brooklyn. I've been moving the last four years. I don't want to go anywhere. I just want to be an established player here, and I want to play." Robinson said.

Assuming Robinson opts out, Brooklyn will have to decide whether or not they bring him back or not next season. Robinson wants to test free agency which most players will do this offseason with the cap going up, but that doesn't mean he won't sign with the Nets for a new deal.

On the season, Robinson is averaging 3.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, that adds up to 11.3 points and 14.1 rebounds per game.

Robinson wants to be a Net, but there's nothing wrong with seeing what's out there. Let's not forget Robinson's message to Nets fans after Lionel Hollins was fired and Billy King was reassigned.

These last five games of the season will be very important for Robinson to try and prove to the Nets even more that if you give him the minutes he will contribute. Robinson must decide by June 15th whether or not he will accept his player option or test free agency.

Robinson is getting his chance to prove that he deserves to play in a lot of NBA minutes. So far so good, but we'll see if he can continue his success for the rest of the season. Question is, Will that be enough?