Sunday, August 18, 2013

Thomas Robinson recharged, settled after rocky rookie season in NBA

Former Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson, a current member of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, goes after a rebound during the Bill Self basketball camp held Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Former Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson, a current member of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, goes after a rebound during the Bill Self basketball camp held Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, at Allen Fieldhouse.



Former Kansas University forward Thomas Robinson, a member of the Portland Trail Blazers, throws down a dunk during a game of J-A-Y as campers watch during the Bill Self basketball camp held Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Former Kansas University power forward Thomas Robinson — the highly-touted No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft — was left dazed and confused after getting traded twice during his rookie season.

“You don’t feel settled at all,” said the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Washington, D.C., native, sent from the Sacramento Kings to Houston Rockets in February and on to the Portland Trail Blazers in July.

“It’s a unique situation, but unique things tend to happen to me,” the 22-year-old Robinson added Sunday at Bill Self’s Basketball Pro Camp in Allen Fieldhouse. “It feels like I’ve been in the league five years already. It’s only been one. It’s a good thing. It’s matured me as a player, matured me as a person. It humbled me a lot.”

Robinson in one year went from a KU starter who averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds to a reserve who managed just 4.8 points and 4.5 boards for the Kings and Rockets.

The decline in productivity left Robinson searching for answers.

“I talked to (KU) coach Self a couple times this year, more than a couple actually,” Robinson said. “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.”

Robinson hit the boards hard, averaging 12.8 rebounds (third-best mark in league) and 10.4 points while playing five games for Portland in the 2013 Las Vegas NBA Summer League. He grabbed a single-game summer-league-high 18 rebounds to go with 12 points against the Chicago Bulls.

“One thing that describes me is rebounding. My confidence is getting back up,” Robinson said.

That’s in large part because ... “I think he (now) realizes who he is. He is a rebounder who can score as opposed to a scorer who can rebound,” Self said Sunday. “If he can just worry about the things he can control, he’ll become an even better shooter.”

Robinson hit 43 percent of his shots and 52.3 percent of his free throws for the Kings and Rockets after canning 50 percent of his shots and 68.2 percent of his charities his final season at KU.

“Thomas can shoot,” Self said. “Thomas for me was a volume shooter, though. Since he had the green light his last year, he knew if he missed it didn’t matter because he was supposed to keep shooting.

“In the NBA, it’s a little bit different when you are not the first option,” Self added. “So he has to be able to make one out of two wherever he shoots from.”

Of course, it’s hard for a rookie to make shots when he’s constantly on the trading block.

“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,” Self said. “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.”

Robinson said he’s motivated to play for the Blazers, who have made it clear he’s somebody the front office values.

“I feel wanted there, which is a good thing,” Robinson said. “They are young, especially with the main core guys, so I will try to go in there, find a spot to help the team. For them to come in and make me feel like it’s home for me is definitely a big deal.”

Robinson is eager to forget about last year — which he called a “rookie roller coaster.”

“Mentally, man,” he said of the key to his future success. “My career isn’t over. It doesn’t matter what I did last year. I need to get back to being who I am as a player. That’s all I plan to do this year.”

This, that: Robinson had no comment Sunday when asked for an update on his sister, Jayla, who, along with Thomas, survived the death of their mother and two grandparents during Thomas’ sophomore season at KU. ... Self said it was great to work with former KU guard Ben McLemore on Saturday and Robinson on Sunday at his pro camp. “I didn’t have to convince them. They want to come back,” Self said. “These guys love coming back. They look for an excuse all the time to come back.” ... Robinson on what he misses most about Lawrence: “Everything. I was thinking the other day about walking on campus, getting ready for the season, the Big 12 tournament ... everything.”


Ralster Jayhawk 8 months ago

I got a feeling this year's bigs will be a tough, versatile bunch:

  1. Perry Ellis--> Portfolio explodes this year with starter mpg+Hudyization. He already broke out during last season's post-season.

  2. Landon Lucas--> Let's see what 1 yr in-system + Hudy + Self's infamous bigman motivational schtick did for Lucas' game. Look, the kid has a face up jumper and some touch around the rim, and is 6'10, 240. It's a PLUS if he contributes more than Sasha Kaun did.

  3. Jamari Traylor--> Dont question this kid's heart & motivation, and we only saw his frosh season, and already knew he is a developmental-track guy. So let's be patient with Jamari & give him the time he deserves. Those developmental mpg last season will pay dividends soon. The battle for the #3-5 bigman is wide open.

  4. Joel Embiid--> Needs no introduction other than highlight-delivery already proven on defense against KY-level recruit classmates in the Jordan Classic game. Who gets invited to such a game, a kid with "potential" or a kid "already delivering highlights". Offense remains to be seen against Div.1 foes, but I guarantee he is LESS of a project than Withey was. Hunch is Self finds a way for a legit 7ft athletic monster like Embiid to get some mpg to get acclimatized to the Div.1 game. Again, he facialled Randle more than once...not afraid. Cant teach size and athleticism.

  5. Tarik Black--> Definitely in the hunt for the starting 5 spot. What a compliment to smooth finisher-Ellis. Think of a crafty veteran DJackson type of player. Hearing him speak his transfer rationale, this guy is articulate, insanely motivated, and a bright guy. He could pick up Self's playbook hopefully quick enough to be a solid presence...maybe even a starring role alongside Perry Ellis.

Highest hopes for all this year's bigmen. (Arkansas kid sits for his redshirt season.)

Rock'Em & Chalk Outline 'Em in da paint, baby...


Ralster Jayhawk 8 months ago

Just imagine if fate had given us Thomas Robinson and Tarik Black at the same time. Not only would that possibly match up with MichiganSt bruizer-ball, but would spell the END of several "soft, so soft..." UNC bigmen...(all in the same game...). ouch!


jaybate 8 months, 1 week ago

"jaybate's 133rd Dream Late in August about KU having Tarik the Physique Inside this Season"

~Tarik sets a ball screen for Selden on the wing. Selden's man winds up in the fifth row.

~Tarik sets a ball screen for Wigs' on the other wing. Wigs' man winds up in a concession stand on the loge.

~Tarik crosses the lane to set a back pick on The Designer's man. The Designer's man winds up on the opposing team's bench.

~Tarik runs from the low block to ball screen the Designer's man top of key. The Designer's man winds up in an ambulance with his spleen on ice in a zip lock bag waiting to be sewn back in at Lawrence Memorial.

~At half time, Naa imitates Roadrunner and uses Acme latex to paint a black tunnel on Tarik's front side, then drives the lane and scrapes his man off with Tarik. Naa's man looks like Wile E. Coyote smashed flat against the tunnel painted on Tarik.

~Tarik gets out on the secondary break. Each foot step registers 5.2 on the Richter Scale. Tarik runs over three players, dunks the ball, shatters the glass, crashes through the bleacher, then runs through the outer wall of Allen Field House leaving an outline of himself the way the Three Stooges used to when they ran through walls. Tarik keeps running to south to Perry Lake, where he forearm shivers the spill way and knocks it over, then comes to a stop in Bucklin, Kansas to have a lemonade with Eddie home visiting an old pal having a hernia operation. Eddie reveals to Tarik that Self's hair is real. Tarik then runs down to West Mineral, KS, in the strip pits and Tarik cleans and jerks Big Brutus the steam shovel.


Kevin Huffman 8 months, 1 week ago

The need is there more for McLaughlin or Oubre who will also be there.

Of all of them, Turner DOES seem like the heaviest "lean" towards KU at the moment.

I think it was funny how quickly Selden committed after Late Night last year. His experience w/ KU was a lot like mine. I visited one other school, had another visit set-up for after KU and just flat-out cancelled it and was like - I'm in love - I'm going here.


wrwlumpy 8 months, 1 week ago

Without having to purchase ESPN Insider you can find out Cliif Alexander's leading school.


jaybate 8 months, 1 week ago


Is he still having a Labatt's and a curl?

Hope he's getting some water skiing in on a nice lake in Ontario somewhere.

Yo, Nike, stay the !@#$% away from Andrew.



Martin Rosenblum 8 months, 1 week ago

Surprised that nobody has pointed out this line by HCBS about TRob: "....He has new representation.". Sounds like there may have been some issue not with his abilities, but, with his original agents. If that was the case, I hope he has "representation" that can and will put him in a position to see success as KU Nation knew he was capable of.

The Blazers definetly need an image like Robinson and are always hungry for the next great player, ala Damian Lillard. It's a shame Kevin Pritchard is not part of the Blazer's organization anymore. He could have been a big factor in TRob's development there.


bayareajhawk 8 months, 1 week ago

I am a huge T Rob fan, but I was told that over the weekend he was in a small local restaurant trying to hustle free food and drink from the girl at the counter. That is ridiculous, and borderline disgusting.

You are a millionaire, Thomas. You probably make in a week what the restaurant owner makes in a year. Pay for your food and leave a good tip. Don't act like a broke high school kid. It's insulting.

All that said, good luck this year. You can be the best rebounded in the league. It's all up to you.


Tony Bandle 8 months, 1 week ago

In this era of litigation, seeing the words "recharged' and "settled" in the headlines caused my heart to skip a beat or so!!!


Dan Cook 8 months, 1 week ago

Wonder why everyone continues to list TRob as 6'10" when he's maybe 6'8" wearing a small heel. Many of us thought he would struggle offensively and he has. His best offense is on the offensive glass. A couple put backs, a bucket in transition, one low block turnaround and 2 free throws and you're averaging 10 a night, Thomas. Follow Coach's advice and you can be a 10 and 12 guy and play in the league for a long time!


Michael Luby 8 months, 1 week ago

TRob just wants to keep his lil sis out of the media spot light. He's being protective, as he should be.


Chris Shaw 8 months, 1 week ago

One of the more Bizarre rookie campaigns I've seen in a while.


William Blake 8 months, 1 week ago

"Of course, it’s hard for a rookie to make shots when he’s constantly on the trading block."

It's just hard to make shots as a NBA rookie, period.

The lights are brighter... everyone's a stranger... seems like you live on the road... and your getting paid big money to meet expectations from people you don't know.

Good luck, TRob. You've got it figured out now. Rebound first... and let the rest of your game come as you fit the pieces together.


Steve Gantz 8 months, 1 week ago

4-5 points per game and 4-5 rebounds per game are not terrible numbers TRob! I'm sure there are all-stars and maybe even hall of famers with similar first year numbers. I checked Rodman he averaged 6 points and 4 boards his first season.


Brianna Zaleski 8 months, 1 week ago

Any theories as to why he kept mum when asked about his sister? Maybe they're riffing about something? Maybe he wants to move her out to Portland but she refuses?

Jaybate, please don't say it has to do with shoes. Ha!


Andy Tweedy 8 months, 1 week ago

Maybe it's just me, but out of the three cities he's called home in the NBA, Portland seems like it would be the best.


Robert Brock 8 months, 1 week ago

Robinson on what he misses most about Lawrence: [HAS ANYONE EVER COMMENTED ON THE GREAT FOOD THAT THEY MISS?]


Jonathan Allison 8 months, 1 week ago

“I didn’t have to convince them. They want to come back,” Self said. “These guys love coming back. They look for an excuse all the time to come back.” ... Robinson on what he misses most about Lawrence: “Everything. I was thinking the other day about walking on campus, getting ready for the season, the Big 12 tournament ... everything.”

Priceless recruiting tool: former players gushing about how much they loved being at KU and how much they miss it. This is what Bill Self means when he says that KU sells itself for recruits. And having a coaching staff that work their tails off on the recruiting trail helps a little, too.


REHawk 8 months, 1 week ago

Early departers, especially, seem to return to the Kansas campus and absolutely bristle with adoration for this place. Is great that Self remains influential and brings them home.


jaybate 8 months, 1 week ago




It put Rodman in the Hall.


Scott Smetana 8 months, 1 week ago

Note to recruits... Need coaching advice after college? Call Self, you're a Jayhawk for life.

I'm betting UK alumns call World Wide Wes or his friends who promised to set them up if they followed their advice.


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