No complaints about Year 2 in the NBA
HOUSTON Denizens of the Trail Blazers’ Moda Center locker room notice two things right away. One, it’s fancier than the dressing area at the local YMCA. Two, in a locker room full of brotherhood, the most willing smiles often come from reserves Will Barton and Thomas Robinson.
Rob hermes uk inson, in particular, is happy to be where he is. Living in a condo near Portland State. Enjoying his time as a Blazer.
“I love it in Portland,” said Robinson, who will be in coach Terry Stotts’ rotation for Wednesday night’s Game 2 of the Portland Houston first round playoff series at the Toyota Center. “The city’s so chill to me, so relaxing. Once you get past the rain, you be fine.”
A year ago, Robinson’s head was spinning after a rookie season divided between the team that took him with the fifth pick out of Kansas in the 2012 NBA draft, Sacramento, and Houston, where he landed after a midseason trade. He played sparingly at both stops, and the B word bust reared its ugly head. Self doubts, too, sprouted like weeds in fertile soil.
The 6 10, 240 pound power forward got a new lease on his career when Portland general manager Neil Olshey acquired him last summer for a song the draft rights to a pair of European players and two second round picks.
Ironically, Robinson is back facing the Rockets, with whom he never got off the bench in last season’s first round playoff ouster by Oklahoma City. Is there extra incentive to stick it to his old club?
“I’m over that by now,” Robinson said before Portland’s Tuesday practice session. “I just want to help my team get to the second round, man. That’s all the motivation I need. Houston is just the team we have to play to move on.”
Robins hermes uk on’s production was a mixed bag in his first taste of playoff action, the Blazers’ 122 120 overtime victory over the Rockets Sunday night. He snared six rebounds three off the offensive glass and had a posterizing first quarter block. He made only one of four shots, though, during his 14 1/2 minute stint off the bench.
“Defensively, I was active,” Robinson said. “I got to the glass. But I got a better performance in me. My stat line would have been if I hadn’t missed those two little bunnies, but I won’t do that again. I know that’s there for me. I can keep getting that all series.”
Robinson was disappointed the five Portland reserves who saw duty Sunday combined for only seven points on 2 for 14 shooting.
“We were terrible, just terrible,” he said. “We stuck together mentally, but on the stat line we weren’t there. I guess when we can’t affect the game offensively, we have to find other ways to help the starters out.”
Robinson’s self confidence is back after a regular season in which he kept his spot in Stotts’ rotation most of the way. Robinson played in exactly as many games as a rookie (70) and actually played considerably fewer minutes 873, down from 1,056 in 2012 13. His averages were almost the same 4.8 points and 4.4 rebounds compared to 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds last season. But he shot .481 from the field, considerably up from .430 as a rookie, and .564 from the foul line, better than the .523 he posted a year ago.
“He’s hermes uk going to blow you away,” Olshey predicted on media day before training camp.
Robinson hasn’t done that, at least not yet. But he has shown glimpses of promise and performance that lead you to believe he could at least be a starter in the league some day.
Those players picked before him in the 2012 draft (Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters) and those chosen directly after him (Damian Lillard, Harrison Barnes, Terrence Ross and Andre Drummond) have all experienced measurable success their first two seasons, ranging from All Star status to at least part time starter. Not Robinson, who is on his third team in two years. Has he gotten an unfair shake?
“I’m not complaining,” he said. “No, I don’t think so. But you go back to the top half of the (2012) draft, I’m the only one who didn’t play 20 minutes a game as a rookie. I’ve played one 30 minute game my whole career.”
That came on Feb. 23, when, with LaMarcus Aldridge inactive due to a groin strain, Robinson came off the bench to fashion career highs in points (14) and rebounds (18) in 33 minutes of a 108 97 victory over Minnesota.
Would Robinson like more such opportunities? Of course. But he’s looking forward, not back.
“Things work out like that sometimes,” he said. “Everybody doesn’t have the same story. My story 10 years from now could be I didn’t play my first couple of years.”
Robinson is playing now, though, getting six minute stints in each half, doing what he can do.
“Be active,” he said. “Cause havoc. Get defensive stops, rebound, run the floor.”
“He brings a lot of energy for us,” said Joel Freeland, Portland’s other “big” off the bench. “He runs the floor, crashes the boards. He’s a great rotation player, and a great guy with great character.”
Robinson said he loves his teammates, veterans such as Dorell Wright and Mo Williams, “who have won in this league before.” And point guard Lillard, “a superstar who gives me extra motivation to keep pushing.”
And especially Aldridge, who has become a mentor. has helped my whole career so far, and this is just the beginning,” he said, adding with a grin, “and this summer, I’ll definitely try to steal more stuff from him.”
“We talk daily,” Aldridge said of his understudy. “During practice, I try to point him in the right direction. During games, I’m always pulling him aside. What he brings to the table this team needs. What I mean is, a controlled recklessness crashing the boards, being active on the defensive end, blocking shots, kind of being nasty out there.
“He fouls guys and doesn’t even know he’s fouled them sometimes. That’s good for us.”
What did Robinson think about Aldridge’s 46 point, 18 rebound gem in th hermes uk e Houston series opener?
“Same thing everybody else in the world thinks,” Robinson said. “Him, Wilt but he’s capable of that every night. I don’t ever think he’s going to miss when he shoots.”