Thomas Robinson was supposed to be a star or at least a solid piece for the Sacramento Kings, who drafted him fifth overall in 2012. The 6’9″ bruiser boasts a 7’3″ wingspan and a bouncy, physical playing style that appeared to make him a perfect fit for the NBA. After all, he averaged nearly 18 points and 12 rebounds during his junior year at Kansas, after which he declared for the draft.
Instead, he has bounced between five franchises in just four years in the league, and now is trying to catch on with the Los Angeles Lakers for his fifth campaign. It won’t be easy, but Robinson has shown a willingness to work hard, finishing near the top of the Lakers “Winners” board that keeps track of who emerges victorious during the various drills they run in practice. His hustle is also apparent during games, but in an interview with Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times, Robinson admitted that at this point, his fate is out of his hands:
“It’s out of my hands now,” Robinson said after slumping wearily into a folding chair, his uniform soaked in sweat. “I feel like I’ve done everything I can to this point to give myself the best shot that I can to make this team. It’s up to the front office now.”
Making the Lakers won’t be easy. With 14 guaranteed contracts on the books, that leaves room for just one of Robinson, Yi Jianlian, and veteran Metta World Peace to make the team. Most believe that the final spot will come down to either Robinson or Yi, but then again, most counted out World Peace last summer as well, and he managed to stick around.
There are some factors working against Robinson, such as his similar playing style to presumptive backup center Tarik Black. His main competition, Yi, can space the floor in ways that Robinson can’t, and also offers an intriguing contract that could be a useful trade chip this season. That said, Robinson has arguably been the best player of the bunch in limited preseason action, which means that head coach Luke Walton and his staff will have a very difficult decision to make over the next few days.