THE NUMBERS just don't add up.
That could profit the Sixers.
Thomas Robinson finished second in Wooden Award voting, then went fifth in the 2012 draft, but he didn't get his first NBA start until he'd been in the league more than 200 games. Only 23, he is with his fifth team in three seasons.
That's a lot of numbers, but none of them are the type that excite the Sixers, the most number-centric franchise in all of pro sports. What Robinson is, and what he could become, transcends numbers.
Sixers coach Brett Brown calls him "a bull," and Robinson the hungriest bull in the barn.
"I'm tired of getting treated like a rag doll in this league," Robinson said after his second game with the Sixers. "I just want to prove that I belong here. I'm tired of being treated like I've been treated in this league."
Nothing in his pedigree and nothing in his career profile suggested that he would be low-hanging, waiver-wire fruit 3 years after he was college basketball's most compelling star.
His personal tragedies as a college sophomore, when he was a teammate of Philly twins Marcus and Markieff Morris at Kansas, thrust him into a national spotlight. While he toiled on the Midwest Plains in the middle of winter, his grandparents and mother back in Washington, D.C., died within weeks of each other, leaving Robinson and his sister, Jayla, then 7, essentially alone in the world.
Buoyed by the support of the national college basketball audience and maniacally driven by the desire to secure the best life for his sister, in only months, Robinson transformed from a sophomore bench player with the Morris twins to a bona-fide star as a junior.
Robinson finished second to Anthony Davis in the 2012 Wooden Award voting, and the Kansas forward went just four picks after the Kentucky star in the ensuing draft.
Shipped out of Sacramento during his rookie season to Houston (where a clever young man named Sam Hinkie was assistant general manager), Robinson was seen as a minor money-saving move for the Kings. That summer, Houston needed to clear cap space to sign Dwight Howard in a trade, so Robinson was traded to Portland. The Blazers didn't need him, so last month he was thrown in as part of a deal with the Nuggets to make that trade meet NBA salary rules. The Nuggets never wanted him and quickly waived him.
The Sixers, now run by Hinkie, snatched him up - and, by satisfying payroll-usage rules, reportedly saved themselves almost $2 million.
Spin it any way you want, but Robinson is right: He has been treated like a rag doll.
He's been playing like He-Man.
Robinson has averaged 9.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in 16.4 minutes of bench play in his four games with the Sixers, a significant increase from his career averages of 4.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in just over 13 minutes of play - but then, his minutes are deceptive, since he has been a healthy scratch for about 20 percent of his NBA games.
Why is he producing now?
"Nobody's given me a chance," Robinson said. "That's pretty much it."
Well, yes and no.
Robinson lists at 6-9 and 240 pounds, and he certainly is a strong, athletic player. However, despite the presence of a viable midrange set shot, he never developed a definable offensive game in college. Also, he's a little too short and 10 pounds too light to warrant the minutes to develop an offensive game on teams that featured DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento) and LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland). His effort has not been consistent enough to establish a reputation as a tireless hustle player in the vein of Kenneth "Manimal" Faried or Chris "Birdman" Andersen.
Maybe the Bull can find a suitable pasture in South Philly. He would fit the city's mold.
His two buckets at the end of the first quarter Monday kept the Raptors from pulling away. He found Ish Smith early in the second quarter, then tied the game with his second putback. That gave him six points and three rebounds in 6 minutes of play; plus, he policed Raptors cheap-shot artist Tyler Hansbrough, who cowed under Robinson's glare.
Robinson next entered late in the third period and scored five points in his first 70 seconds. He was floored by an elbow to the jaw early in the fourth and was replaced, despite his protests.
"I was fine," he insisted afterward.
"He was a bull," said Brown.
You get the idea Brown wants to hide his bull. Robinson is a free agent after the season, and the Nets were on the verge of signing him when Hinkie made the waiver claim.
Bill Self, a coaching genius at Kansas, turned Robinson into a lottery pick in one season. Robinson is a coach's dream; the sort of player Brown can develop into an invaluable asset.
"I feel sure about the path I want for him," Brown said. "It's a refinement of his game. He has this incredible bounce and passion and energy. Sometimes maybe he tries to do too much or play too fast, or takes that 'reckless abandon' mentality and gets himself in trouble. We just have to tame it and help him grow it. Not handcuff him, just try to refine it."
Even with his pedigree, Robinson has yet to find a spot in the NBA where he can be nurtured the way he was nurtured at Kansas. Then again, it wasn't exactly touchy-feely in Lawrence; especially after the sadness of his sophomore season.
"I love the hell out of coach Self. He loves the hell out of me. He always gave me tough love. I needed that. I always need that," Robinson said. "And I know I always get the credit, but he helped me get through that situation I went through in school. He made me who I am."
Brown can take it a few steps further.
"He's trying to find a home," Brown said. "I feel like I have answers."
Thomas figures his unassuming offensive needs and his commitment to defense and rebounding fit any team's requirements, but then, four other teams didn't value those assets enough.
He's happy Brown believes in him and will let him shoot, but he's not banking on staying: "I thought [Portland and Houston] were good fits, too."
He says it without malice as he pulls on a sheer T-shirt with a life-sized picture of Claudia Schiffer's fetching face. He does not know who Schiffer is. "Just liked the shirt," he said.
He is not an angry young man. Just hungry.
And, for the moment, happy.
The twins' mother, "Miss Angel," has served as a surrogate mother for Robinson since before his own mother died and continues to do so today. His sister is close geographically, but since he battled for custody of her after their mother died (her father's family also sought custody) he has, for the past couple of years, declined to elaborate on her situation.
All of that makes Philadelphia a comfortable place for Robinson . . . who is ready to move along whenever the phone rings. The pain Robinson endured gave him an impenetrable armor.
"All of what I've been through makes me laugh at stuff like that," Robinson said. "Nothing's going to faze me. I've pretty much seen it all. I'm not going to let this league or anyone's opinions break me. I know what I can do. I know who I am. The moment I get the chance, it's going to show."
Look at the numbers.
On Twitter: @inkstainedretch