The young Houston Rockets grabbed the attention of NBA fans this season with their fast-paced and entertaining style of play, which lead them to pushing the Oklahoma City Thunder to six games in the first round of the playoffs. Although Houston had a better than expected season, they lacked toughness and intensity inside, but rookie forward Thomas Robinson could be just the player to provide it for them.
Robinson was dealt by the Sacramento Kings to the Rockets mid-season after a disappointing first half where he saw limited minutes in the dysfunctional Kings’ rotation, averaging just 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in about 15 minutes of playing time with Sacramento.
Houston actually played Robinson a couple minutes less per game than the Kings, but Robinson seemed to play with more of the passion with the Rockets that led to him being an All-American at Kansas and eventual fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft.
Robinson has a reputation of a hard worker and also has the size at 6’9″, 240 lbs to be a solid NBA front court player, if in the right situation. Often with young players their success is directly tied to where they are drafted, and playing for perennial losing franchise like the Kings with uncertainty about their future ownership probably wasn’t the best situation for Robinson. The manner in which the team handled his playing time and development demonstrated how bad of a fit it was for him.
With part-time starting power forward Patrick Patterson now in Sacramento, the role is wide open for the taking, unless the Rockets elect to fill it with a veteran free agent. But if Robinson can prove in summer league that he is capable of providing rebounding and toughness on an NBA level, he may earn the role and save Houston a lot of cap space.