Sacramento, Calif. Thomas Robinson is full of surprises. On Thursday, he is drafted No. 5 instead of No. 2. On Saturday, he introduces himself to Kings fans as a hardworking, ordinary guy who just happens to be a perfect rebounder. Later in the afternoon, he attracts an exuberant crowd at Arden Fair mall, his appeal and size of the gathering exceeding the Jimmer Fredette frenzy a year ago.
The rookie looks fine in a suit, as advertised, 6-foot-9 and 244 pounds of chiseled, power forward muscle. His massive hands could sub for meat hooks at the local deli. He speaks softly and doesn’t elaborate much – at least he didn’t during his first several hours in town – but he certainly knows how to deliver a soundbite.
“I don’t do anything perfect except rebound,” the former Kansas Jayhawks star said, matter-of-factly, during his news conference at Power Balance Pavilion.
The Kings, of course, can’t wait to see and hear more. They still can’t believe Robinson dropped to No. 5. He’s not Anthony Davis, but his presence alongside DeMarcus Cousins makes the Kings potentially intimidating and infinitely more interesting.
If Geoff Petrie reaches a verbal agreement with Jason Thompson during the free-agent negotiating period that began today and continues through July 10 – and that was the stated goal before the pursuit turned to shooters and point guards – Kings practices will be more entertaining than any of those traditionally tedious midweek, midseason matchups between chronic lottery participants.
Cousins, with his frowns, his famous bark and his muscular, marvelous talents. Thompson, with his emotional, wide-eyed expressions and occasional fits of temper. And now Robinson, with his combination of talent and athleticism, of terrific footwork and massive hands, of a famous work ethic and a motor that seems stuck at 100 mph.
OK, so he’s not perfect. The Kings don’t need perfect. They need more quality players. They need more talent. They need a complement to the outrageously gifted Cousins. The rookie is perfect enough.
“Thomas won’t block a lot of shots,” Kansas coach Bill Self said earlier Saturday, “but he slides his feet, and he’s capable. He’ll probably be better in the NBA because we were always concerned about keeping him out of foul trouble. I think it’s a great fit (with Cousins), and the fact Sacramento is a little bit of a smaller market, that will be good for him, too. Even though he didn’t go No. 2, I think things worked out well. Everyone knows he’s been through a lot.”
Though his story has been well-publicized, Robinson, 21, is increasingly reluctant to share details of a 2011 season during which his grandmother, grandfather and mother died within a 25-day span. Concerned with his sophomore’s fragile emotional state, Self initially was conflicted about how hard to coach his devastated, emerging star.
“In all honesty,” said Self, “Thomas lost all of the loved ones who would tell him ‘no.’ People were afraid to upset him. But he just said, ‘Don’t coddle me. Coach me like you would have if nothing had happened.’”
Robinson’s extensive support system in Lawrence, Kan., includes Angela Morris, mother of his former Jayhawks teammates and second-year NBA forwards Marcus and Markieff. Angela Morris attended the draft proceedings in New Jersey and, at Robinson’s request, accompanied him to Sacramento. A self-anointed “godmother,” she will return within the next few weeks to help find a house and get settled.