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Dime NBA Draft Profile: Thomas Robinson

They used to call it one of the best draft classes of the last 25 years. Now, it’s looking more and more like Anthony Davis… and then everybody else. Still, this Thursday, the 2012 NBA Draft will bring hope, and hopefully new talent to some teams that desperately need it.

As we do every year, Dime will be holding you down with mock drafts, player interviews and diaries (you should check out Dion Waiters‘ draft diary), and we will also be bringing you draft profiles for every potential prospect deemed worthy. With this year’s crop of talent, that list is long. Our last profile was on the future of Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger. Today, we’re looking at Kansas’ Thomas Robinson.

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PLAYER COMPARISONS
Best Case: Blake Griffin
Worst Case: Brandon Bass
Final Comparison: Paul Millsap

Athleticism
Robinson is an explosive leaper who uses that on both defense and offense. There’s no reason to question his ability to get up and get a ball either to punch it through the cup or into the stands. He’s quick laterally, which can make up for being a bit undersized by some estimates at 6-9 for the four spot. The aforementioned leaping, however, is his key, as he can jump from either foot and finish with each hand. He can run a traditional fast break or trail in the secondary break as well as any power forward in the game because of his speed and his ability to switch gears quickly. One of his most valuable assets is his ability to keep the ball high after a rebound, while using his springs to pop back up for a shot as quickly as possible. He leaves less time than almost anyone else in college this season on the floor between offensive board and shot.
Grade: 9

[RELATED: Dime Mock Draft 4.0]

Skill
What Robinson will need to improve on is taking a big man to the basket from a traditional post move. He’s got them, to be certain; however, they’ll have to be improved significantly against NBA competition, where he won’t be able to bowl over a defender with his above-average quickness. A one-on-one game isn’t playing to his strengths if he catches the ball with the intent to make a move to the block first, but he’s shown that he can be an above-average shooter from 15-19 feet in the last season. That’s key because he didn’t show that in his (albeit few) minutes in 2011, so I wouldn’t count out him picking up new tricks to his post game. Robinson is a natural shot blocker and his passing is good enough to rotate the ball out of a double team. Even for his huge season with Kansas, making his jump shot consistent seems to be a bit of a project.
Grade: 7

NBA Readiness
We’re not sold on the jump shot quite yet, and his post moves are more of a Charles Oakley than an Al Jefferson at this point. The same could have been said, and was, about Blake Griffin in 2009 and he’s certainly flourished while developing a true post game on the fly (no pun intended) as he takes advantage with his athletic strengths. A point of concern is his shooting percentage last season was 50 percent despite most of those buckets coming at the rim or within five feet. It seems that number should have been higher. His readiness concerning his strength is a complete non-concern, however. Robinson is the anti-Kevin Durant going into this Draft with his chiseled-out-of-marble physique. He’ll handle the rigors of a season well.
Grade: 7

Upside
Robinson only took an average of 13 shots per game last season, which seems to suggest he could stand to benefit from more shots. It also shows, however, that he can produce without the offense beginning and ending with him. I picture him also in the Kenneth Faried mode, meaning he can alter a game’s flow with his rebounding alone, something only a handful of players can do. His consistently solid positioning for rebounds and leaping ability will get better and add value to his role on the floor.
Grade: 7

Intangibles
If you knew one thing before his breakout season in Lawrence, it was his heartbreaking story of losing his mother and two grandparents during a month in January of 2011. That he was able to put together his All-American season and lead KU to the national title game while providing for his little sister, Jayla, is all you need to know about his resolve. An NBA lifestyle won’t chip that foundation. If NBA executives had to rate draft picks on who they would entrust one of their family members to, Robinson has to be the prohibitive favorite, if not the unanimous choice.
Grade: 9

Combined score: 39 out of 50 possible points.

Best Fit For: Washington Wizards
Robinson is fantastic on the pick and roll because of his closing to the rim once the ball is in his hands, and his jump shot that will make defenses hedge carefully. To do that, he’ll need a standout point guard and John Wall fits the bill perfectly as he enters his third season. Kyrie Irving is an obvious option for Cleveland, but I don’t believe that sticking him with Robinson would be better because he hasn’t played enough in the League. Wall is coming into his own not only with a court savvy with respect to the NBA game, but also the leadership given to him with distractions Nick Young and JaVale McGee no longer employed by the Wizards.

OUTSIDE OPINION:
“Despite playing limited minutes for Kansas in 2010-11, was probably more NBA ready than a lot of players in the lottery of the 2011 NBA Draft. His size, length, strength, and athleticism make him an NBA specimen who could contribute immediately in the paint with rebounding and defense.” — Bjorn Zetterberg, for Swishscout.com.

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