Thomas Robinson has been in contact with his University of Kansas basketball coach, Bill Self, this past year. It comes as no surprise that Robinson would desire guidance after a rough entry into the NBA, and it makes even more sense that he would just want to talk with a man who has helped shape him as a person. It’s important to remember where you come from and foster the bonds you’ve made along the way.
Self’s advice to Robinson? Focus on rebounding. This will be of immense importance, as Kevin pointed out this morning. If Robinson is going to succeed in the NBA, he needs to excel at his niche and expand his game from there. He was an excellent rebounder for Kansas, averaging 11.9 rebounds per game as a junior, and should be able to translate that to the NBA in the proper system.
“I talked to Coach Self a couple times this year- more than a couple actually. He constantly told me the same thing he told me when I struggled before my junior year; just be a rebounder. That’s what I’m going to do.”
This is great for the Blazers, who will be looking for someone to crash the boards in the absence of J.J. Hickson, who signed with the Denver Nuggets during the offseason as a free agent. It will be especially important since both of Portland’s 7-footers (Robin lopez and Meyers Leonard) enigmatically struggle to reel in rebounds. According to Coach Self, Robinson is ready to capitalize on his fresh start.
“I think his head is right, not that his head was ever bad. Sometimes when things don’t go well, you get (put) in different spots, you get a little down. I think his batteries are charged. He’s excited to be in Portland. He had a great summer league. He was probably the best rebounder in the summer league. That’s what I’ve been told. He’s excited to get started. He has new representation. It seems to me he has a new lease on everything.”
A big part of Robinson’s rookie struggles revolved around his lack of basketball identity. He went from a scorer that could rebound at Kansas, to a rebounder that could score in the NBA. The difference is subtle, but the expectations are different. When you’re not option #1, you’ve got to make the shots you take because you’re not guaranteed another on the next possession.
So T-Rob will focus primarily on rebounding in the 2013-2014 season. I am a-okay with this. Through some masterful offseason moves, the Blazers are overflowing with scorers. Robinson is in an ideal situation where Portland’s needs match his talents. Despite struggling as a rookie, he still averaged a double-double per 36 minutes for both the Kings and the Rockets. I expect that trend to continue with even better numbers in the Rose City.
Source: Gary Bedore, KU Sports