SquareOff of the Week: Will Thomas Robinson Thrive in Portland?

Last week, Houston traded Thomas Robinson to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for  the rights to Kostas Papnikolaou and Marko Todorovic, and two future second-round picks. The trade was agreed on last week but it wasn’t completed until Wednesday.

Thomas Robinson is now on his third NBA team in a year. T-Rob was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the 2012 NBA Draft with the fifth overall pick. He was traded to Houston in February and played in a total of  70 games last season while averaging 4.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 15.1 minutes.

After the trade was announced, Bill Simmons and Chad Ford discussed the trade on the BS Report (listen here). They discuss why Thomas Robinson keeps getting traded and Simmons says why he think this is a great spot for T-Rob.

You can view the transcript below. Do you think T-Rob will thrive in Portland? Vote in the SquareOff of the Week!

Bill Simmons: “I like Portland. I really like what Portland did. They had no bench last year. They had the worst bench in the league. I’m doing this off of the top of my head but I think they got Thomas Robinson — let’s talk about him in a second — Robin Lopez, CJ McCollum and Dorell Wright, all the sudden you have got a bench. And they’ve have LaMarcus Aldridge and Lillard and Batum and Wesley Matthews. I like that team! I would think that’s team is a much safer bet to make the playoffs than what New Orleans put together.”


“Back to Thomas Robinson for a second. Can you believe this guy was the fifth pick in the draft? Everybody was comparing him to David West a year ago, everybody liked him, everybody thought he was a reliable prospect. And Houston, because of the Dwight Howard thing, they have to have a fire sale for him basically. Portland got him for nothing! They gave up nothing.”

“I can’t remember another situation like that where, here’s a guy who was in Sacramento in a terrible situation, he’s like the 17th power forward they have, gets traded halfway through the season to Houston. Houston decides, for the style they’re trying to play, he doesn’t make sense, they don’t want to indoctrinate him in the offense with 20 games to go, so they bury him. And now he’s available, now he’s got a chip on his shoulder. Why weren’t teams trying to get him on draft night? I don’t get it.”

Chad Ford: “I think it’s amazing the sort of herd mentality in the NBA. If you love a guy before the draft then everybody loves him. By the way, not everybody loved Thomas Robinson coming up to the draft, but most people did.”

Simmons: “Most people did.”

Ford: “And he almost went to Charlotte. They were seriously considering him versus Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Thomas Robinson could have went as high as No. 2 in that draft, which would have even been more amazing.

“Again, he comes into a dysfunctional franchise, as you pointed out, not a great fit for a player like Thomas Robinson. That was not a good fit for him. The Houston thing was a wash and my guess is they don’t give him up if they don’t go get the Dwight Howard deal, if they weren’t going to move that direction and try to clear cap space.”

Simmons: “They need the money.”

Ford: “I still think he can play. The talk around the league is, well Thomas Robinson, what they found about about Thomas Robinson, was that he couldn’t remember a play. And number two, that he wanted to do more on the offensive end than he’s really capable of doing. We saw a little bit of this at Kansas and Bill Self did a really nice job of reigning him in, where he wants to handle the ball and shoot it a little bit, thought he had more abilities than perhaps maybe that he really had.

“But you’re talking about a young player. You’re talking about a player that the stat guys love coming in. And a guy who can for sure rebound in the NBA. For sure he has that ability to rebound at the NBA level.”

Simmons: “And he has a reliable 17-footer.”

Ford: “I think, again, there’s a herd mentality in the league. They love you one minute then they’re off you the next and the same scouts that loved Thomas Robinson a year ago are now rolling their eyes like he can’t play. I think this goes again, we try to understand the draft and and which players are a great fit. And I agree with you, I loved Portland’s draft, by the way. I loved McCollum at ten. Actually, you didn’t mention Allen Crabbe.”

Simmons: “Yeah, I forgot him.”

 “I really like Allen Crabbe. That’s another lethal scorer coming off the bench who can shoot the basketball. And Robin Lopez, you’re probably right: Portland is right there in the mix with those teams trying to make the playoffs. I find it just so fascinating that so much of these guys, what’s going to happen next, depended on what team they were drafted, what their fit is with the team and who their head coach is.”

Simmons: “I just thought, like, Brooklyn takes Mason Plumlee 22nd. If I’m Brooklyn, I’m trying to flip that pick for Thomas Robinson. We’ve learned over and over again in this league, repeatedly, at least 15 times over the last 20 years, that the easiest way to get a good player is to get a like, a Top 5 or Top 6 lottery pick with a pedigree that failed for whatever reason, who didn’t fail for the right reason. I think, like Jonny Flynn or Hasheem Thabeet, those were guys that, you watch them and you go ‘Alright, those guys don’t have it.’ That’s a wash. Even Wesley Johnson was a pretty decent example of that. It was like, you watch him and go ‘Aw man, this is not the same guy we thought he was going to be.'”

“But you look at guys that have failed because of the situation, and now you’re talking about Chauncey Billups, there’s a whole list of guys like this. But you know what I mean? Even somebody like Antonio Daniels, who was a complete failure for the Grizzlies, he actually turned into a decent backup guard for the Spurs for a few years.

Like, you have that pedigree, it’s pretty hard for you to not be a nine-man rotation guy. And with this draft was so weak, you look at like Utah taking (Gorgui) Dieng from Louisville, who could be like 27 for all we know, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Andre Roberson. How is Thomas Robinson not better than those guys? I was stunned by that.”