Since their initial Summer League lineup was announced, the Portland Trail Blazers have added Thomas Robinson (F), Terrel Harris (G), and Dominic Waters (G). Harris and Waters will have their opportunity to contribute, but I am more interested in seeing how Robinson plays. The former #5 pick will likely have the opportunity to start for the Blazers in Las Vegas.
One year ago, as a completely raw player for the Sacramento Kings, Robinson averaged 13 points and 9.8 rebounds per Summer League game (with highs of 19 and 16 in each respective category). Now, he has one year of NBA experience under his belt and is playing with a huge chip on his shoulder. I would not be surprised to see him take his share of the Blazer spotlight this week.
Las Vegas Summer League began today, but the Blazers’ first matchup is not until tomorrow against the Phoenix Suns at 5:30 PST on NBA TV. We will finally have the opportunity to see some chemistry form between our newest pieces (not to mention the old ones). Between Lillard, McCollum, Crabbe, Barton, Robinson, and Leonard, it should be quite a show.
Considering the Suns’ first round pick, Alex Len, underwent surgery to repair his right ankle today, tomorrow’s match-up should be a trouncing. I’m okay with that. Normally, I like to see teams compete at the highest level that they can, but the Blazers could use a gimme to work out any kinks and build some cohesion. And as a giddy fan, I want to see Robinson and Leonard dominate the Phoenix’s depleted frontcourt.
On an individual level, Robinson will be my focal point when I glue my eyes to the TV screen. If you’ve been reading along lately, you are probably aware that I have a man-crush on T-Rob. He just has so much upside that I can’t stifle my intrigue. This could be our very first look at the youth of the Blazers’ future core (possibly post-LaMarcus in a year or two). How can you not be excited?
Here is what I expect from Robinson this coming week:
1. Complete control of the glass. At 6’9” (6’10” in some listings), 240 lbs, Robinson is an absolute bruiser. Not many players have that body at 22. If nothing else, Robinson’s trademark is his aggression. I want to see him harness it and pull down as many rebounds as humanly possible.
2. Increased offensive efficiency. Robinson shot 43% from the field last season, but always had to create his shots with sheer force. Now that he’s got some reasonable facilitators on his side, and a year to learn from, I think that we’ll see that number make its first rise in Summer League.
3. A great attitude. This should be expected of every player, but it means more for Robinson. It’s not that he’s had a poor attitude previously by any stretch; it’s just that he has a place to truly call home now. When the job security and support of the city sinks in, I bet he’ll be all smiles.