Nate Robinson almost avoided my wrath. I got so wrapped up in the Celtics’s comeback and subsequent meltdown that I almost didn’t have enough time to expose Robinson. But don’t you worry, Nate. You will now get what you deserve.
Robinson has quickly taken over Tony Allen’s title as the Celtic most likely to cause my first heart attack . It’s not that Robinson turns the ball over a lot, like Allen did. Robinson doesn’t really do that. In fact, his turnover rate (8.54) is great for a point guard. It’s not even that Robinson has been shooting poorly, even though his ice-cold shooting percentages (29.6% fields goals, 22.2% three-pointers) sure don’t help — I can live with missed shots. I can even live with some bad shots; Robinson’s a firecracker off the bench who can score in a hurry. Certain bad shots, such as heat checks or desperate attempts to jump start a lifeless Celtics team, can be explained. But there are other Robinson tendencies I just can’t live with:
1. Dribbling around aimlessly — What point guard doesn’t like to dribble ten seconds off the shot clock for no apparent reason whatsoever? Oh, almost all of them? I see.
At one point last night, the Celtics all stood around as Robinson dribbled the ball at the top of the key. Robinson was relaxing — straight chilling! — while his teammates waited for him to call a play. They kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting. On my TV screen, I could see Rondo frantically screaming at Robinson and motioning for Robinson to call a play. About six or seven seconds later, Robinson finally snapped out of his daydream and ran an offensive set. But it took him THAT long! It was oddly symbolic of Robinson’s entire season to this point. He was lost while all the rest of his teammates were ready to play.
2. The fast-break pull-up jumper — The bane of my existence, and we’ve all seen it many times. Robinson doesn’t often run fast breaks looking to pass. (What point guard does? Again, you say, almost all of them? Oh.) He often ends them instead with a pull-up 15- or 19-foot jumper. It’s not that Robinson can’t make that shot — of course he can. But can’t he try to manufacture a layup? Can’t he try to create an easier look, either for himself or others? Isn’t he capable of that?
3. The “fake try” defense – Okay, I termed this myself. Maybe Robinson’s actually trying. But just because he’s pressuring his opponent doesn’t mean he’s playing good defense. Take last night, for example. Robinson kept playing chest-to-chest defense on J.J. Barea, as if Robinson was trying to prove he could be a defensive pest. He wasn’t. Not at all. More like an annoying little gnat that’s exceedingly easy to swat away. Robinson continued to pressure Barea, who kept driving right by Robinson like he wasn’t there. And this wasn’t a star Robinson was defending, people: it was f*cking J.J. Barea! Against most players, you could say that Robinson’s size is a hindrance. Not against Barea. It was simply a case of bad defense.
Not only is Robinson frustrating to watch, but this season he has also been the worst player on the Celtics, and maybe in the entire league (yes, even including Darko). Robinson’s PER after the season’s first seven games (3.93) is barely better than Scal’s PER last year (3.61), which happened to be the worst PER of Scal’s career. Which means that Robinson so far this season has been approximately as bad as Scal at his worst. Yikes. Robinson has a true shooting percentage of 39.1% and an effective field goal percentage of 33.8%, which are roughly the equivalent of Ben Wallace’s — if you got Wallace drunk and made him shoot long two-pointers all game. Yet Robinson still has a usage rate of 25.1, which means that Robinson is a chucker without a conscience. And, right now, he’s also a chucker without any semblance of a reliable jumper.
Some people might argue that Robinson simply needs Delonte West, and I would concur that West’s playmaking abilities should benefit Robinson. But Robinson has done this before. In New York, he never relied on Delonte West. Last year, Robinson never relied on Delonte West. West’s suspension isn’t a good excuse for such piss-poor play.
We are now eight games into a long season. Robinson might still have plenty of time to turn his campaign around, and he certainly has the talent to. On the other hand, maybe Robinson better right the ship quickly. If he doesn’t start showing some improvements, and fast, he might very well find a permanent spot on Doc Rivers’s bench.
(Note: All advanced stats are from HoopData and exclude last night’s game. I can’t believe Robinson’s three points, one assist, one rebound, 1-4 shooting, or two turnovers helped his cause very drastically.)