As the Chicago Bulls have had to make their way through the NBA this season without Derrick Rose, they have still been able to stay as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. They have had many players like Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer step-up their games to help make up for Rose’s absence.
However, one player that has elevated his game and hasn’t received much recognition for his efforts this season—Nate Robinson.
Robinson has had an inconsistent seven and a half year career in the league, bouncing between five different teams and garnering a reputation as a trigger-happy guard that doesn’t do much for a team beyond taking a ton of shots.
For the Bulls though, Robinson has done his best to shed those labels. For the year, he’s averaging 11.9 points, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.3 rebounds per game. He’s shot the ball at 43.5 percent and at an outstanding rate of 40 percent from beyond-the-arc. He also has the highest Player Efficiency Rating on Chicago at 18.04.
His real contributions this season have been when he has been thrust into the starting lineup with the injury to Kirk Hinrich, Rose’s replacement. In his 14 games as a starter, Robinson has averaged 13.6 points, 6.6 assists, 1.9 steals and 2.5 rebounds per game. He’s also been able to shoot 41.9 percent from three-point land in those games.
Beyond all of this, Robinson has also been vital to the Bulls in his ability to gain dribble-penetration. With his speed off-the-dribble, Robinson is probably the most skilled player on Chicago’s roster at getting into the lane and scoring at the rim, something that they otherwise wouldn’t have with Rose out of the lineup.
Robinson’s contributions to the Bulls this season have been enormous. In many cases, he’s tried to replace what they lose while not having Rose on the floor. That has been a big reason why Chicago has been able to maintain success without their superstar point guard. If Robinson continues to produce at this rate when Rose does return, the Bulls could be a very dangerous team in the post-season.