“That’s my guy,” said Willie Reed, who signed with the Miami Heat
butplayed with Robinson last year on the Nets. “T-Rob is an extremely
hard workerand tough competitor. He was in the gym working every day
because he wants toget better. He’s the type of guy who wants to be the
best he can possibly be,while pushing you to do the same. He’s a
relentless rebounder and explosiveathlete. He’ll be a great fit for
whichever NBA team gets him in free agency.”
As Larkin noted, Robinson has been in somedifficult situations – each
year having to adjust to a new system, coachingstaff, group of
teammates, city and more. It’s not easy to maximize one’s fullpotential
under these circumstances, and Robinson is hoping that free agencybrings
him the opportunity to settle down somewhere and focus on playing
The 2015 NBA All-Star Game starters were named a week ago and the
All-Star reserves have been named by the coaches around the league.
Now that we know who has made the All-Star rosters in both
conferences, it’s time to talk about which players were omitted. One
of the toughest parts of getting All-Stars everybody can agree on in
each conference is having enough spots for deserving players.
That’s practically impossible in the loaded Western Conference and
even a bit of a problem with the Eastern Conference this season. Guys
like DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Lillard were surprise omissions in
the West. Kyle Korver and Brandon Knight didn’t make it but could
still find their way in with Dwyane Wade’s injury. In fact, we’ll have
at least two injury replacements with Wade and Kobe Bryant, and maybe
even another one if LaMarcus Aldridge decides to rest that injured
So who were the toughest omissions/snubs in both conferences and
whocould have a great chance at being an injury replacement? Let’s
take a look atthe candidates:
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: Kyle Korver probably isn’t your
traditional type of All-Star but in an era of basketball in which
we’re getting smarter about the way we judge and dissect players, we
can see just how deserving he is. He’s been arguably the most
impactful player on the Eastern Conference’s best team. Yes, he
doesn’t average that many points, but his shooting threat makes all
defenses terrified to leave him. When they do, he buries them with
historically great shooting. And don’t think of him as just as hooter;
he’s a fantastic team defender on one of the best defenses. He’s the
early favorite to replace Wade.
Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks: The Milwaukee Bucks have been one of
the nicer surprises in the Eastern Conference and Brandon Knight has
been the best player on the team all season long. Jason Kidd relies on
Knight to set the tone on offense and he’s been a willing and capable
defender too. With 17.9 points, 5.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals,
and 43.9 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from 3-point range,
he’s having a career year across the board. He’s in heavy competition
with Korver for the replacement.
Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards: The Washington Wizards are one of
the top defensive teams in the NBA and Marcin Gortat is a huge reason
for that.John Wall’s top pick-and-roll partner has been anchoring the
Wizards’ defense all year, helping them be a top 7 defense. Gortat’s
averages of 12.0 points and 8.2 rebounds are lesser numbers for him,
but his impact has been felt throughout the season.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond had a disastrous first
month of the season, but once December hit and especially after Josh
Smith was waived, Drummond came on board to be the monster center we
expected under Stan Van Gundy. He’s one of only a couple players
putting up averages of at least 12 points and 12 boards, and his field
goal percentage is about to eclipse the 50.0 percent mark, despite the
uptick in post possessions. Without that bad November, he might be a
lock to have made the team.
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic: Speaking of giant, double-double
centers, the 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic every
night have been stellar for the Magic. He’s still not a great defender
but he’s slowly improving his team defense. Having Aaron Gordon back
in the lineup and the starting duo of Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton
should help that a bit. And he’s their anchor on offense, forcing the
defenses to swarm the post and battle him on the boards. He might be
tough to keep off the team next season.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings: The uproar of DeMarcus Cousinsnot
being on the roster was very loud right after the West reserves were
announced. Cousins could end up being the first player in league
history that isn’t named to the All-Star team with averages of about
24 points and 12 rebounds. Cousins’ team isn’t bad because he can’t
lead them. They’re bad because he got sick, the coach was fired during
that window of opportunity, and Tyrone Corbin hasn’t been able to
bring things together. Cousins is one of a handful of deserving guys
in the West, squeezed out because of limited spots. He’ll be in heavy
consideration for replacement spots.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard will also be in
heavy consideration as Kobe’s replacement when Adam Silver makes that
decision.Lillard has helped the Blazers get to one of the best records
in the NBA, and his exclusion from the first run of reserves before
replacements were announced was surprising. He has the highest scoring
average (21.8), rebounding average(4.6), steals average (1.3), and
field goal percentage (43.2 percent) of his career. He’s also one of
the best clutch scorers in the NBA.
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley has been one of the best
point guards in the NBA on one of the best teams in the first half of
the season, but the Western Conference is so loaded that I’m not even
sure how you argue he should be in over any of the reserves selected.
That’s not a knock on him either. It’s just that loaded. For Conley,
he’s one of the league’s best defensive point guards and he puts up
17.4 points, 5.6 assists, and shoots over 40.0 percent from 3-point
range.He really doesn’t have aweakness on the floor and plays
perfectly off of Marc Gasol at the end of games.
Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks: Monta Ellis have it all, but he didn’t
have it All-Star this season.He’s been a revelation since joining the
Dallas Mavericks last season. This season, he’s putting up 20.5 points
and 4.4 assists, while posing as the top playmaking option at the end
of games for the Mavericks. Prior tothe Rajon Rondo trade, Ellis
helped the Mavericks put up the league’s bestoffense.He’s hard to call
a snub,but it’s hard to say he hasn’t had an All-Star caliber season.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors: The Atlanta Hawks got three
All-Stars, so why don’t the Golden State Warriors have three
All-Stars? Well, they play in the crazily packed West, so that cuts
down on chances to make the All-Star team. Draymond Green has been
their third best player and one of the league’stop defenders. His
averages of 11.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6steals, and 1.4
blocks show his versatility. His 3-point shooting has dipped below
league average but he’s still a very real threat you have to close out
on. He wasn’t robbed but he was pretty deserving.
Robinson’s Nets teammates saw the impact hemade when he was on the
“It’s frustrating because anyone who knows me – and a lot of peoplein
the NBA know me since I’ve been with a few different organizations –
theyknow how I am. Some of the stuff, like being about playing time as
arookie in Sacramento, was back when I was an immature 19- or
20-year-old. Iwanted to come in and I wanted to be Kobe! You know?
(laughs) Now, I’veaccepted my role and understand the player that I am.
It wasn’t easy to do whenI was younger, and I feel like that one mistake
I made is staying with me. Now,people say, ‘He doesn’t know his role,’
but that’s something I learned thatfirst season when I was traded
several times. I know that my job is strictly tobe a solid rebounder and
defender. I want to make it clear to everybody: that’sall I want to do.
I want to be one of the best rebounders in the league andlock down
anyone who comes my way.
Now, Robinson is hoping to find the rightsituation in free agency and
ultimately change the way he’s perceived.
“He was definitely coachable. He was like any other younger player,who’s
not sure of their ‘role’ on a team being enough to ease their
mindbecause of what they feel they’re capable of. T-Rob can do a lot of
differentthings on the court, and at times would try to use his entire
arsenal on onegiven play (laughs). Those things are a part of the growth
process. With us, hedid accept that we needed him to be a beast on the
boards, a monster on defenseand a fireball of energy every time he got
on the court. And he was elite atdoing those three things and had a huge
impact on our team. I loved workingwith him.”
“I’ve heard things like I’m uncoachable and standoffish and act acertain
way, but I can tell the people saying those things don’t really knowme.
I am a quiet person, that’s just the reality. That’s just my
personality,it has nothing to do with my attitude or anything like that.
For people to say,‘Oh, he’s a bad kid,’ or, ‘He’s some type of way as a
person,’ is unfair. Thestuff I’m hearing isn’t factual and that has made
this process a little bithard. It took a turn that I didn’t expect.”
“I’ve matured so much,” Robinson said. “I see things completelydifferent
now. , I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to hear, ‘Be adefender! Be a
rebounder! That’s all you need to do!’ I didn’t want to hearthose
things. I’m okay at doing things other than just rebounding and
defending,so I didn’t want to just do that. But after all of the trades
and constantlyhearing that, it sold me. I think the biggest sign of my
maturity is the factthat I’m not striving for the same things that I was
when I came into theleague. I’m not trying to put the ball on the floor
and score a lot. Beingtraded that many times, I looked in the mirror and
realized I need to stickwith what I do best and all of this will go
away. If I’m out there averaging 14rebounds per game, those
misconceptions will go away (laughs).
Last year, Robinson averaged 4.3 points and5.1 rebounds in just 12.9
minutes per game with the Nets. Put another way, heaveraged 16.9 points,
19.7 rebounds (including 7.5 offensive boards), 2.5assists, 2.1 steals
and two blocks per 100 possessions.
Despite the fact that Robinson has earnedpraise from teammates and
coaches and tried to be a positive influence in thecommunity, he
continues to hear negative things associated with his name.
He is a great competitor andfearless rebounder. I think he can help
every team in this league with hisskill set and motor. He just needs to
get the right opportunity.
Robinson certainly learned that the NBA isa business rather quickly, and
it seems that the constant changes of sceneryhave humbled him a bit. The
former number five overall pick admits that hewanted to be a star early
in his career, as just about every young playerselected in the top five
does. Now, he just wants to be known as a player whoaggressively
rebounds, plays intense defense and hustles on every play.
When given the chance to play significantminutes, he often thrived. He
started seven games for the Nets and averaged14.6 points, 12.3 rebounds,
two assists and 1.6 steals in those contests, whileshooting 54.4 percent
from the field. This is obviously a small sample size,but he produced
the previous year in Philadelphia as well, suggesting he justneeds
minutes: During his 22-game stint with the 76ers, he came off the
benchto average 8.8 points and 7.7 rebounds in just 18.5 minutes a
“T-Rob plays hard as hell and he is a workhorse,” said Shane Larkin,who
played with Robinson last season in Brooklyn. “He’s a monster on the
boardsand he was always a very positive teammate. He just needs a
situation wheresomebody will allow him to show his skill set and give
him a chance to grow withina franchise. He has played for several teams
and several coaches his first fewyears in the league and, speaking from
experience, that isn’t the easiest thingto do. At the end of the day, he
is an energy source off the bench and a greatteammate. I hope somebody
will give him the opportunity to show his true talentbecause that is all
he really needs. He was the fifth pick in the draft for areason.”
“I do a lot of work in the community, but for some reason teams wantto
talk about one mistake I made when I was a kid and when I didn’t know
who Iwas as a player,” he said. “The negative thing can stick with you
and keepcoming up, but all of the good stuff I do isn’t discussed. Every
team I’veplayed on, I’ve done some type of charity event in that city.
And I’m notsaying that because it’s something that I want praise for,
I’m just saying thatit’s interesting what people focus on. Instead, ‘I’m
a bad kid who hangs withthe wrong people.’ It’s all wrong. I’m kind of
tired of fighting that. I justwant people to know the real me so I can
be comfortable around them and buildthose relationships. Right now,
there are misconceptions.”
“T-Rob is a guy I connected with right away because of his work ethicand
passion for the game,” Blazers guard C.J. McCollum said. “I remember
goingto the gym after midnight on multiple occasions and seeing him in
there workingout with his trainer and our video coordinator.
He cited Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo andCleveland’s Tristan Thompson as
big men he emulates now.
Last year’s Most Improved Player, C.J.McCollum, also praised Robinson’s
effort and professionalism. Robinson was onthe Blazers during McCollum’s
rookie year (and for half of his sophomore year),and the young shooting
guard learned a lot from Robinson.
Robinson’s minutes were up and down allyear long, mainly because of a
midseason coaching change. For example, heaveraged just 6.5 minutes per
game in December under head coach Lionel Hollins.But when Hollins was
replaced by interim coach Tony Brown, his minutes nearlytripled. By the
final month of the season, he was averaging 25 minutes pergame.