Robinson: Won't play victim, here to attack
LAS VEGAS – “I didn't come into the league with the right mindset and that messed me up for a little bit. No fault of Sacramento or Houston. They did what they had to do. Houston made a great power move. If I was the GM, I would have did the same thing.”
Those quotes were from Thomas Robinson to members of the media after his double-double performance in which he scored 12 points and a Trail Blazers Summer League record 18 rebounds in an 80-78 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls.
The previous record was held by Jeff Pendergraph who pulled down 14 in 2010.
The No. 5 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, who is on his third NBA team since he was drafted, has done some self-reflecting recently.
Blessed with the physical tools of a bull, Robinson admitted after Tuesday's game that when he came out of college, he was expecting to be a featured offensive option once he arrived in the association.
“I thought I was a scorer in this league,” Thomas told CSNNW.com. “I may be one day, but right now I've realized that I have to be that energy type of player with an edge-- Grab those boards, make my presence felt-- That's what I lost, my edge. I'm a grimy player and I lost my focus for a little bit.”
Tuesday night Robinson must have had 20-20 vision because his focus was clear in that he believed that he was capable of bringing down every shot that clanked off the rim.
The 22-year-old forward said he was having fun for the first time in a while. He was just relentless on the boards, attacked the basket with force and was a key reason why the Trail Blazers came back from being down 14 to send the game into overtime.
Simply put, he was hungry this evening.
“I told you I've got a family to feed,” he said. “Rebounding is what's going to keep me in this league. If my offensive game develops to the point where they want to utilize me in that role, then that will be a plus. But I'm going to make my living cleaning up the glass.”
Following the game, Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts had a little chat with Robinson outside the locker room that involved some praise, but also some critiques.
“I congratulated him,” Stotts told CSNNW.com. “I thought he played better. I thought he played harder this game. But you can't be satisfied. There's still a lot of things he can do better once he becomes more comfortable with our system on both ends of the floor. He's showing that improvement and that's what you want from a young and talented player.”
Robinson's first two Summer League games with the Trail Blazers have been inconsistent. You saw the flashes of brilliance, and then he hit you with the slapping forehead moments.
He has been criticized, ridiculed and labeled a bust by many in a year's time. What most professionals athletes have and have had for a long time is confidence. Once that confidence starts to deteriorate for whatever reason, you can become a person you never thought you'd become.
Robinson became someone he didn't recognize on the court, but he thinks he has it figured out now.
“I've been through a lot this year,” Robinson explained. “It can mess with your confidence. It can mess with who you are as a player. I'm trying to get back to who I am as a player and that's being aggressive, playing with a lot of emotions and letting people know I'm on the court.”
The Trail Blazers have two games at minimum left during Summer League play. Robinson has picked an excellent time to regain his confidence. Nobody remembers the way you start, they remember how you finished.
CJ McCollum started off Tuesday's game in Cox Pavilion shooting poorly, but picked it up in the second half and hit a game-tying three-pointer to send the game into overtime thanks to an incredible drawn-up play by coach David Vanterpool.
Robinson has been feeling the pressure as of late to perform up to his potential, and tonight he finally got it done. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come.
“He's been wanting to do so well so bad,” Vanterpool said. “And for him, being a monster on the glass is going to be important, being a monster defensively is going to be important and making sure he's there to do a lot of the dirty work. He already has a lot more talent than a normal dirty work type of guy, but he can be one of the best dirty work type of guys in this league.”
The Trail Blazers will play as the 19th seed in tournament action. They take on the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night at 5:30pm in the Thomas & Mack Center.