This season Thomas Robinson played as a man would given the chance to step in against a JV team. A feeling of control stuck with him as a breakout junior closer than many defenders did as he averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Kansas has always been prolific at putting out the fundamentally sound star with Mario Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison. All the stars from Lawrence who gave off their own vibe to match — J.R. Giddens and Brandon Rush, for a few — never seemed to transition into the pros nor fit the Kansas archetype. Robinson, though, was one of the best to mix that panache, power and team concept this season.
After that season he’s expected to be drafted Thursday night in the NBA Draft in the top five picks. It’s time we looked at his top five plays of the season.
*** *** ***
5. Backcut slam on Texas A&M
Robinson’s instinctual on the court and that usually leads him to the rim as a default mode. His speed makes him dangerous on the pick and roll, but he can get his shot by being an ancillary member of the play, too. Here he sets a screen away from the ball and slips to the cup for a nasty dunk.
4. Dunking on Duke
You’ll hear Jay Bilas say it in the clip, but I want to reiterate it: There was no angle to dunk here. None. Yet he gathered himself past the first defender — with about a foot of space to spare — fast enough to surprise the second. His ability to leap of the floor quickly â€” off an offensive board or needing to surprise such as here â€” is one of the best parts of his game, one that’s so hard to instill if not born with it. Plus, he dunked on Duke, which means thousands of non-Kansas fans automatically are cheering, too.
3. Game-changing block on Missouri
In a battle between teams expected to challenge for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Robinson delivered an 87-86 win and the game-saving block. He snuffed out Phil Pressey‘s layup at the end of regulation to force OT and caused Phog Allen Fieldhouse to sound like a tornado just touched down. This was one of his two blocks, to go with 28 points and 10 boards.
2. Lowering the boom
This morning I projected a best-case comparison of Robinson with Blake Griffin. It’s fitting one of his best plays of the season — one of the best college dunks of the season, period — came against Griffin’s old school. Once teammate Jeff Withey sealed off the lane, Robinson was cleared for takeoff.
1. Alley-ooping all over Baylor.
Robinson tore apart the Baylor front line in their matchup at the Phog this season, a marquee game for not just his season but his career. Considered a litmus test against Quincy Acy and Perry Jones, Robinson showed he was the best athlete on the floor that day.
Hit the jump to see the best Robinson mixtape around…
For a full tribute to T-Rob’s eye-opening year, check out this video.
What was his best?
Follow Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewGreif.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.