Kings' Robinson gets message from coaches, grows

jejones@sacbee.comJanuary 16, 2013 

There was plenty of advice for Thomas Robinson as he began his NBA career.

A lot of it he should have ignored, but he didn't.

Lately, the power forward has found himself more often on the court, mainly because he started listening to what his coaches had been telling him and not what the other voices had to say.

Robinson said it would take "all day" to list everyone who told him how he should play after the Kings drafted him fifth overall in 2012.

"You know how everybody has their opinion," he said. " 'You're in the NBA now, you need to show them you can do this, show them you can do that.'

"That's not true. It's not my last year. I can show what I'm capable of years down the road. For now, to get established, I'll continue to do what got me here."

Robinson thought he'd be drafted no lower than second. Before the draft, he wanted to work out against power forward-center Anthony Davis, the consensus No. 1 pick, to prove he was worthy of going first.

But Robinson slid to the Kings, and he struggled in summer league and to start the season. Meanwhile, guard Damian Lillard, who was picked sixth by Portland, is the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year honor.

Robinson said he's not worried about Lillard or any other player now.

"It just took me a little longer than the rest of them, but I'm back on track," Robinson said. "So I'm not going to compare myself to Damian Lillard. He's an explosive scoring guard, and we're in two totally different positions."

It took prodding from the Kings' coaching staff and a serious reduction in minutes for Robinson to get the message.

Over four games from Dec. 28 to Jan. 2, Robinson played 17 minutes, including no time against the New York Knicks.

In the six games since, he's averaging 7.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in 21 minutes per game. He's shooting 53.8 percent (21 of 39) over that span.

Coach Keith Smart said Robinson has improved finishing around the basket and learned to slow down on the court.

The message, Smart said, has been consistent all season, but Robinson is starting to show he's buying in.

"Try to be an efficient player in the minutes that you have," Smart said. "And I think so far over the (recent) games, he's played well with what he does well already."

Robinson's rebounding is much needed. The Kings entered Tuesday 25th in rebounding (40.55 per game), and their differential of minus-3.74 was the second worst in the NBA.

In Monday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Robinson had seven rebounds off the bench.

"(Monday) night, he was possessed, and no one could keep him off the glass," Smart said.

Robinson's ability to get to rebounds all over the court makes him unique on the Kings.

"I really don't look down until I have the ball," he said. "It's just me hunting. I realize I end up (outside the paint) a lot of times. It's just me trying to chase the ball down."

Robinson said Tuesday he was fine after a car accident following Monday's game. He said he tried to make a turn too late, and his Porsche went over a concrete divide at the intersection of Del Paso Road and Broadgate Drive near Sleep Train Arena.

"It's not that bad," Robinson said. "The car's not totaled, but I messed the bottom part of my bumper up. I probably busted something in the engine, but I'm not sure. I'm breathing, I really don't care too much about the car."

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