Thomas Robinson has bounced around the league quite a bit since being a lottery pick back in 2012. Since being drafted No. 5 overall that year by the Kings, Robinson has made stops with the Rockets, Trail Blazers, 76ers and Nets. Considering that adds up to five teams in just four NBA seasons, it's safe to say he hasn't quite lived up to the expectations that come with a top-five draft choice.
However, it's also safe to say that he hasn't really gotten a big chance with any of those teams. He's never averaged more than 13 minutes a game in any season. After inking a minimum deal with Brooklyn last summer, Robinson proceeded to log just 12.9 minutes a night as a backup to Thaddeus Young. In those 13 minutes or so, he averaged about four points and five boards.
However, once the Nets decided to shut Young down to avoid injury toward the end of the season, Robinson finally got the opportunity to shine. Over a six game stretch from March 29th through April 8th, T-Rob averaged 15.3 points and 13 rebounds in just over 28 minutes per. He started only one other game all season long (March 5th) and racked up 18 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals in 40 minutes.
As a result of his strong showing in the season's latter stages, Robinson is reportedly going to opt out of the second year of his deal with Brooklyn (h/t San Antonio Express-News). With the cap set to explode, the 25-year-old can surely get a raise over the $1.05 million he'd make if he were to opt in with the Nets. Could the Clippers be a fit?
Sure, it's a tiny sample size, but Robinson finally started to resemble the guy most thought he could become prior to the 2012 draft. His athleticism, rebounding prowess and indefatigable style of play were never really questionable, but in order to truly live up to expectations he'd have to develop offensively. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear as though he's made many strides in that area. Counting stats are great, but they don't really tell the whole story. Check out his shot chart from this past season, via NBA.com:
As you can see, a whopping 76.6% of Robinson's shot attempts came in that area immediately around the rim. He took a handful of shots elsewhere inside the arc, with disastrous results. The 52.5% he shot right at the bucket is nothing special for a 6'10" guy, either.
Robinson said late in the season that it's time for him to be a 20+ minute player in the league, and that the fact that he hasn't logged more than the aforementioned 13 minutes per game at any point in his career is "BS." Based on those comments, it's tough to imagine Doc Rivers being able to offer him the kind of role he's seeking. The Clippers could offer him the midlevel exception (~$5.5 million a year) to be the primary backup to Blake Griffin. That, of course, almost assuredly means he'd be playing somewhere between 14 and 18 minutes a night. While it's a bigger role than he's had anywhere else in his career, it certainly sounds like he wants more.
With Griffin injured for so much of the season the Clips managed to win an awful lot of games in spite of not having a true power forward in the rotation. Adding Robinson would supply them with a capable Griffin backup, and would also help cure some of their rebounding ills. Only the Sixers were a worse rebounding team (in terms of rebounding rate) in the league last season. T-Rob ranked fourth among all players in that category (22.0), a hair behind DeAndre Jordan (22.2).
Would signing Robinson be a wise way for the Clippers to spend one of their few monetary assets this summer, though? Outside of rebounding he doesn't give you a whole lot, and he fails to make a major defensive impact other than the occasional blocked shot. He's something of a rich man's Reggie Evans in that way. If it came down to using the MLE on either Robinson or Cole Aldrich, Cole's combination of rim protection and rebounding would seem to make more sense for the Clips.
Doc Rivers was vocal about how pleased he was with the small ball lineups LAC threw out there for much of the season. Robinson's lack of paint protection seems to indicate that trying to play him at center would be disastrous on the defensive end. While the Clippers could use a player with T-Rob's tenacity and energy, burning the midlevel exception on him isn't the right move.