Calling Nate Robinson a little spark plug might be a little too cliché. He is little, by NBA standards of course. He also has been a huge spark plug off the bench for a hot Denver Nuggets team. Has the former Washington cornerback developed himself into a Sixth Man of the Year candidate?
The numbers don’t lie. Let’s compare Robinson’s first 10 games of the season to his last 11.
First 10 games: 16.2 minutes, 34.2% shooting, 6.9 points and a team record of: 4-6
Last 11 games: 23 minutes, 45% shooting, 14.7 points and a team record of: 9-2
While the data above might be too small of a sample size to make any major conclusions, I firmly believe that the Nuggets go as Nate goes. In the first 10 games of the season, Robinson’s minutes were all over the place. He had two games in which he didn’t record a point and another two games where he logged under 10 minutes. Playing that sparsely makes it hard to develop a rhythm, even for a veteran player.
In game 11-against his former team, the Chicago Bulls-rookie head coach Brain Shaw gave Nate good minutes. The result? A 10-point win. Ever since that game, Robinson has been more consistent and has been rewarded with more consistent minutes. Since Nov. 18, Robinson has played under 20 minutes in just two of the 11 games.
Robinson’s decision-making skills have improved as well. Over the last 11 games, Robinson has turned the ball over only 11 times. Given the high energy Robinson plays at, it is very surprising to see that he has cut down on his mistakes. Additionally, Robinson has been able to cut down on his bad shots. Let’s look at his shot chart over the last two years:
A majority of Nate’s shots last year were jump shots. This year he has cut down on the jumpers and has started shooting threes. As indicated by the green, he is shooting above the NBA average with the three ball.
Additionally, Robinson has been able to provide a much needed spark off the bench and has established himself as a candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Ty Lawson has had a breakout year, but with a roster that is currently without Danilo Gallinari, finding a go-to scorer has been tough. Robinson has the ability to create his own shot-making things easier for Lawson and the Denver Nuggets. If Robinson continues to play at this level, look for the Nuggets to develop into playoff contenders.