Is It Time To Say Goodbye To Nate Robinson?
Posted by Ryan DeGama on Jan 5, 2011
I realize the headline may open up a can of worms all by itself.
But I am prepared for your hate, CelticsHub readers. I even welcome it.
Picking up on Brian’s post yesterday on the possibility the Celtics might tinker with their roster before the trade deadline, I believe the player the Celtics should look to move is Nate Robinson.
Robinson has a reasonable contract ($4.2 million this year, $4.5 million in 2011-12) and can contribute in the right role, but because of the makeup of the Celtics roster, its outstanding needs and his diminutive size, he seems likely to be watching the majority of the playoffs from the bench, just like he did last year.
On a healthy Celtics team, Delonte West would be the primary backup to Rajon Rondo. This is hardly news. Pressed into service by the Rondo/West injuries, Robinson has proven capable at times, and incapable at others but by now we know he belongs at shooting guard. The Celtics have come to this conclusion as well, cutting bait on Robinson as a point guard (or trying to, anyway).
Robinson’s main offensive credential is his 38% three-point-shooting (it’s certainly not his career-low 11.31 PER). To be fair, the long ball has been welcome, especially on a bench unit that has struggled to score. But Robinson is shooting a meager 31% from 16-23 feet. And those two areas represent the bulk of his offensive game. Shots from the three-point-arc and the mid-range comprise 74% of Robinson’s total shots taken.
(It seems to me that one of the reasons you rarely see Robinson dunk in a game is because he’s not effective taking the ball to the hoop against larger defenders. And that’s pretty much all of them. He remains a prime candidate to have his shot blocked in those scenarios, which is why he usually drives to pass or settles for pull-up jumpers).
The other problems with Robinson are that he doesn’t play consistently hard enough on defense, gives up significant size to every 2-guard he might see from April to June even when he does, and six years into his career, still regularly struggles with decision-making on the floor.
In summary, I think he’s a borderline rotation player on a championship team. No more. And potentially a lot less.
After the jump, I’ll try and follow this Nate-Hate through to its logical conclusion:
If Robinson can’t crack the C’s playoff rotation, what kind of player could?
The obvious need (so says me, anyway) is a big, strong wing player who can back-up Pierce and Allen against players like Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Manu Ginobli and perhaps even Gilbert Arenas and Derrick Rose. All of these guys are potential trouble spots for the Celtics on their route to banner #18 and the C’s bench, even at full strength, could use additional help to deal with them.
Remember how Pierce struggled offensively against the Cavaliers last year in the playoffs? Remember how much energy he exerted covering James and how it hampered his offense? It’s going to happen again. Both Pierce and Allen are a year older and looking down the barrel of elite offensive player after elite offensive player for two months.
The Celtics need to get their two wing scorers a break from that kind of pressure if they hope to get offense out of them on the other end of the floor. You’ve seen what happens when Pierce and Allen don’t produce – the offense goes in the toilet.
Now, Daniels could make life difficult for many of those opposing players. But history suggests he may not make it through to June without an injury. And I don’t think the Celtics can go into the playoffs with Von Wafer as the only other viable backup at the 2/3 spot besides Quis.
So, that’s the area of need:
A 1) defensive-oriented wing player with 2) size and 3) strength who could also, ideally, 4) hit the three-ball at a decent clip.
Robinson only fills up one of those four categories.
Which is why he should be in play.