Sometimes in life you get lucky — the Portland Trail Blazers think this is one of those times. The Houston Rockets needed to create cap room to sign Dwight Howard this offseason, thus making Thomas Robinson expendable and the Blazers jumped at the opportunity, offering up the rights to Kostas Papanikolau, Mirko Todorovic and two future second-round draft picks. That’s hardly breaking the bank for a player who just a year ago was the fifth overall selection in the NBA draft. Neil Olshey, the team’s general manager, was very excited about this perceived steal and said this:
“Thomas is a dynamic young big man with tremendous upside. He is an elite athlete and brings a unique set of physical tools to our roster. He has the potential to be one of the best young power forwards in the league and his development will be a priority for us.”
Clearly the Blazers are excited to have this 22-year-old on the team. The core players for them are all young, with Damian Lillard (23), Nicolas Batum (24), Wesley Matthews (26) and LaMarcus Aldridge (28). One thing that all NBA teams want: Young talent with loads of potential and the Blazers have certainly loaded their roster with those type of players. On a side note, the Blazers have three of the top 11 players selected in the 2012 draft on their roster … wait, did he say three!? Robinson was fifth, Lillard sixth and Meyers Leonard was the Blazers pick at No. 11. Lillard won Rookie of the Year in a landslide last year and Leonard showed flashes of his future as a formidable big man on this roster. Can Robinson add even more value?
We haven’t seen Robinson play enough minutes in the NBA to really know if his stellar play from the college ranks will translate, but one thing we know from past players — rebounding usually translates. Look at a player like Paul Millsap — he led the NCAA in rebounding all three years he played at Louisiana Tech and now has proven, even as an undersized power forward at 6’8″, that if you pound the glass, you can carve out a nice little niche for yourself in this league. Robinson is a bit undersized at power forward as well at 6’9″; however, there are many power forwards who are successful at or around his size–Paul Millsap, Carl Landry, Kenneth Faried and Carlos Boozer to name a few.
Robinson is re-energized by this move because he really feels wanted by the Blazers organization and he has stated that he wants to get back to what he does best–rebounding. If he’s going to have an impact this year, then that is exactly what he needs to focus on. He won’t crack the starting lineup, barring injury, but again one of the main needs the Blazers addressed this offseason was their depth and Robinson will be in the second unit and will most likely get about 17 to 22 minutes a night.
The trade for Thomas Robinson is one of the steals of this offseason. He’s playing for a franchise that really wants him and you are going to see why as he gets more and more time on the court. Be excited, Blazers fans! You have a core group of guys who have shown they can compete in this league — now add in young assets like Robinson and Leonard and the depth needed in the frontcourt is there. Will Robinson make an impact this season? YES. However, temper your expectations and know that it will take some time before he’s putting up 15 and eight a night. The future looks bright for the lone team in the Great Northwest and this analyst cannot wait to see the season play out.
*All stats and figures via www.basketball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.