The transition from the college game to the NBA is never easy.
Only a few rookies have ever been impact players in the NBA from day one. Most rookies go through a tough transition period adjusting to the speed, physicality, and increased height of the NBA game. Other rookies never fully make the transition to the NBA and end up as busts, never fulfilling their potential.
One of the biggest disappointing rookies in the league so far this season has been Thomas Robinson of the Sacramento Kings. After a stellar career at Kansas, Robinson is finding out that the transition to the NBA game will not be an overnight success.
In his junior season at Kansas, Robinson looked like a future NBA All-Star. Robinson was a tremendous rebounder and his combination of size and speed made him hard to stop in college on the offensive end.
Robinson was known for his motor–always going all out in every play in every game. Led by Robinson, the Jayhawks made it to the NCAA Tournament championship game before losing to Kentucky. Robinson was a first-team All-American and considered to be one of the most pro-ready prospects in the NBA draft.
Predicted to go as high as second overall, Robinson was selected fifth by the Kings–ahead of Damian Lillard. Robinson has found himself on one of the league’s youngest teams with a plethora of young prospects trying to prove themselves.
The transition to the NBA has been a struggle for Robinson. As shown in the above video the weaknesses he displayed in college are still a problem. During summer league play in his initial NBA action, Robinson shot just 34.4 percent from the field as he struggled with this jumper throughout. Ball handling was a problem for Robinson as he averaged 4.8 turnovers in the league and found himself in frequent foul trouble.
The struggles for Robinson have continued in the regular season. Adjusting to the speed of the game has been a problem for Robinson, as he has looked lost on the court and not fully anticipating what is going on. Playing on a struggling team filled with prospects, Robinson has struggled for minutes, only playing 16.1 minutes a game.
Robinson’s turnover struggles have continued as he’s averaging 1.3 turnovers a game and he ranks second on the team in turnover percentage. Never a great passer, Robinson averages just 0.7 assists per game and is shooting only 44 percent from the field. Robinson’s ultra-competitive motor has worked to his detriment as a pro, earning a two-game suspension for elbowing Jonas Jerebko of the Detroit Pistons in the throat.
The road to NBA stardom is never the same for any two players. Plenty of players have had disappointing starts to their careers only to turn things around with increased minutes and a greater understanding of the NBA game. It remains to be seen whether Robinson is on the road to stardom or the road to being a bust.
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