- It has been a small sample size, just 11 games now, but Thomas Robinson has made quite an impression during his time with the 76ers. And while the eyes of the organization are always focused on the future, perhaps the much-traveled Kansas product has found a home.
Robinson, now playing on his fourth team after being chosen as the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, has proven to be a monster rebounder.
In last night's 108-89 loss in Boston, he only had five boards, but he's averaging 8.6 a game in just 17 minutes of play.
He would seem to be the perfect complement next season when Joel Embiid is expected back, seemingly to join Nerlens Noel in the frontcourt. If teamed with Embiid, Robinson could allow the 7-footer to drift away from the basket offensively where he seems to have pretty decent range. If Robinson is teamed with Noel, he could be the strong force defensively, allowing Noel to play against power forwards instead of centers.
"I don't look that far into the future and try to go one day at a time, especially with what I've been through in this league," said Robinson. "It's scary to think about, what us three could have here. Nerlens would be 3 years as a pro, with the organization. Everybody is excited for Joel to come back and if I keep doing my thing, it's definitely scary."
He's certainly getting a long look from coach Brett Brown, who has made Robinson his first big off the bench.
"When you just talk about his skill package, he's got a tenacity," said Brown. "If he does anything, he plays hard. We're trying to have it be more repetitive. I think sometimes, through fatigue, he'll take possessions off.
"But in general, his gift is he is highly, highly competitive. And there is a bull mentality in him. So when you look at it you say 'Why aren't those qualities endearing? Why aren't those qualities something that you'd want to include to your team?' And the answer is that we are all attracted to those things. When you look at his rebounds per minutes played, they are eye-popping, they are off the charts. He is part of our trying to identify keepers on our youth plan methodology. Why not, really, when you look at what he's been doing recently?"
The Boston Celtics recent hot streak, in which they've won seven of eight, has been due to many things. One of them is the play of former Sixer Evan Turner, who posted a career-high 30 points against Orlando on Friday.
Turner, who had 10 points and five assists in the Celtics' 108-89 win over the Sixers last night, has been showing his versatility for coach Brad Stevens, playing multiple positions, while improving his defense. He has become a steady player for a team that is making a strong playoff push.
"He's a big man who's highly skilled. Is he a three man, is he a two man, is he a big one? Sort of yes, yes and yes," said Brett Brown. "I think the thing that people don't give him credit for is that he loves basketball. He loves the game. He plays all the time. I look at his body from when we first had him and we challenged him and he's started to understand the importance of skin fold and staying in career-best fitness and he's thin and in shape. All those things add up and being a good teammate and someone who I look at as somebody whose best days are still ahead of him. I stand by that Boston has a good player and somebody that still has an upside once he grows his perimeter, especially."
With the NCAA Tournament teams now selected, everyone has their opinions on who may come away with the championship. Players, obviously, stake claims to where they went to school. Kentucky product Nerlens Noel is holding his head up high about the 34-0 Wildcats.
"Nobody can talk smack to me," Noel said.