Heading into 2015-16, Nets backup forward Thomas Robinson said he was ready to establish himself as a rotation player in the league after three rocky NBA seasons.
With the season now winding down, Robinson still seeks that stability.
“It’s about time I become a 20-plus minute player,” Robinson said. “I haven’t played over 13 minutes my whole career. To me, it’s BS. But I’m trying to put that out there that it’s about time I become a 20-minute plus player.”
After going fifth overall out of Kansas in the 2012 NBA Draft, Robinson has played for five teams over four seasons. He’s been traded three times and waived a fourth, and never played more than 15.1 minutes per game at any stop, which occurred during his rookie season.
The Nets are in full-bore player evaluation mode, long out of the playoffs and without a draft pick. At the behest of management, the team gradually reduced the minutes load for Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young over the past week before officially shutting them down Sunday. Robinson has been the beneficiary of that minutes reduction, with four consecutive double-doubles in four games with 23-plus minutes, all in losing efforts.
“Like I said, it’s the end of the season, and the minutes are there, but there’s not one (game) I played 20 minutes-plus and I not have a double-double,” Robinson said, which is accurate of his last four games: Robinson has six double-doubles in his eight games with more than 20 minutes played this year. “Or whatever the case may be. I want to win, and I will contribute to winning once we recycle things or do whatever the organization is doing, but myself personally, I think that going into this summer, that’s what I want anybody to know. That I deserve to play 20-plus minutes.
“If I’m here, then that’s all I need. I haven’t been stable. I haven’t played. I’m not making any excuses and I never did, so I just feel like that’s my only barrier. If I’m somewhere more than a year and I’m playing 20 minutes, then I wouldn’t even be in this position.”
With the Nets, Robinson has averaged 12.2 minutes per game, putting up 3.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Those add up to robust numbers when Robinson plays over the course of a full game. But advanced metrics are less kind to Robinson: he ranks 95th out of 99 eligible power forwards in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus statistic, and the team has been outscored by 12.3 points per 100 possessions with Robinson on the floor, the worst of any current Brooklyn Nets player with at least 400 minutes played this year.
The Nets already have Lopez and Young anchoring their frontcourt, and those two are expected to be building blocks for the future. With those two already here, it’s hard to see Robinson getting the 20-plus minutes per game he desires.
Robinson has a player option for next season, and while he would not commit to opting in or out just yet, he said he wants to remain in Brooklyn.
“That’s too far ahead to be thinking (about the option), even though (the end of the season is) right here,” Robinson said. “But still at the same time, I just want to see what my options are. I want to stay in Brooklyn. I’ve been moving the last four years. I don’t want to go anywhere. I just want to be an established player here, and I want to play. I’m not starting anything, I’m not saying I deserve to play or that I have the right to play, I just want to play. I feel like I’m worthy of 20 minutes, and I will give production if I am playing.”