The early-season reports are out, and the book on Nate Robinson has changed, well, very little. Still wildly inconsistent. Still likely to take shots that would leave a young White Chocolate speechless. Still liable to disappear for games at a time, or to shoot 2-15 against the Orlando Magic on Christmas day, or to make you wonder whether the Celtics would be better off with Doc Rivers (or maybe even Jo-Jo White) as a player-coach.
As Rich Levine noted, Robinson was supposed to be different this year. With a training camp under his belt and better knowledge of Boston’s system, Robinson was supposed to provide a spark off the bench — if not every single night, than at least most nights. After all, he’s still only two years removed from averaging 17.2 points per game. And though that was in New York, where Robinson was free to fire like Tony Montana, anybody who averages 17.2 points per game in the NBA can score, and score in bunches. But in Boston, Robinson doesn’t find scoring so easy. At least not every game.
Instead, Robinson is Boston’s version of Sex Panther Cologne. 60% of the time, he plays well every time. Actually, with Robinson it’s probably more like 40% or 30%, he plays well every time.
Robinson’s game logs are as close as game logs get to a roller coaster. He scored 15 points one night in a win against Toronto. Followed that with a doughnut against Chicago. Scored 16 points in a win against Sacramento. Followed with 1-6 shooting against Charlotte, and only five points.
Lately, the Robinson roller coaster’s been on a dip. For most people roller coaster dips are fun, or at least exhilarating. But I’m the type of person who can’t sit in the Garden’s upper deck without wanting to piss my pants, so roller coasters not only make me nauseas but also make me want to cry (and also leave a dump in my pants).
Robinson played fourteen games in November, shooting 50.0% from the field and 43.9% from the arc. Played 14 games in December, shooting 41.5% from the field and 37.1% from the arc. Has played ten games in January, shooting 35.0% from the field and 28.6% from the arc. Oh yeah, and in his last three games, Robinson has shot 4-19 from the field and 1-10 from the arc. The roller coaster is in the midst of falling off the tracks, and those riding the roller coaster are falling to a near-certain death.
The Celtics have tried everything. Didn’t think Robinson could handle point guard? Doc Rivers let Marquis Daniels share ball-handling duties. Maybe he’s not built for coming off the bench? Robinson started 11 games in Rajon Rondo’s absence. The “Robinson as starter” era even began well, but fell apart more quickly than I could say, “Get better soon, Rajon.” Maybe Robinson needs two things — a starting position and Delonte West’s health. During the two games Robinson started and West played, Robinson posted (arguably) his two best games this season: 22 points (on 8-14 shooting) against Toronto, and 16 points (on 6-9 shooting) to go along with 10 assists against Atlanta.
Oddly enough, Robinson’s presence seems to help the Celtics defensively. The two best Celtics defensive lineups (including the league’s best defensive lineup) both feature Robinson instead of Rondo (who just happened to make First Team All-Defense last season). I was pretty sure Lawrence Frank would win the NBA’s MVP award before Robinson would be part of the league’s stingiest defense, but I digress.
The Diminutive Dunker has bought into the system, for the most part, and his defensive efforts are vastly improved since last season. Now, he just needs to hop off the roller coaster. Maybe he should improve his shot selection, which left one unnamed reporter, in the press section at Wednesday’s Celtics game, cursing under his breath. (And no, it actually wasn’t me.) Maybe Robinson needs West to return. Maybe he needs to stop thinking so much on the court, and just let things flow. Maybe he needs to hit the gym and shoot a few hundred jumpers. Maybe he just needs a new pair of shoes. In my NBA Jam voice: Is it the shoes?
Like water through a drain, Robinson’s shooting numbers are going down, down down. Like a needle in my vein, they’re bringing me down, down, down. Like a dog who’s gone insane, they’re putting me down, down down.
Hopefully, those of us who doubt Robinson are going down, down down.
And for those of you wondering: No, I never thought I’d paraphrase a song from Get Him to the Greek to describe Nate Robinson’s shooting woes.