Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Rookie Thomas Robinson is apparently having a strong training camp, and it's only natural to wonder if he'll enter the season as the starting power forward.
"I think he's ready to play from a physical standpoint from what he gives, but there's still a lot of things he's still going to have to learn," [Keith] Smart said. "And I'll know that when I put him in some of the preseason games and see what happens there. Because he's going to have to play against longer, faster guys in the position he's going to play. So rather than say, here goes the starting position for you, I've got to see how he manages."
This might be lacking context, but it sounds like the question actually exists, that Robinson could get the starting nod if he performs well in preseason. There's talk elsewhere in the story about Robinson's ability to defend the post, which is a huge boon for a team that's likely going to struggle to get stops. The energy, hustle and acceptance of offensive role -- something else Robinson appears to understand, based on quotes in Jones' piece -- are help, too.
That said, Jason Thompson gets that -- we know that. He's not as athletic as Robinson, but has experience and a decent on-court rapport with Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins. Also, moving Tyreke Evans to two-guard and adding James Johnson or Travis Outlaw at small forward with Thompson in place at the four would provide the most year-over-year consistency of the acceptable solutions.
But there's one item independent of Robinson's early performance that could matter: Thompson is a more natural center off of the bench than Robinson appears to be. In addition to that, we know Smart likes to go small. Bringing in Thompson and Outlaw or Chuck Hayes off the bench at center and power forward seems cleaner than bringing in Robinson to play center and Outlaw or Hayes to play power forward. I know we'd all love to see the big man rotation limited to three players, but it never works out that way. That's a wrinkle that could convince Smart to use the more versatile, bigger Thompson as a back-up center and power forward as opposed to a starting power forward.
For what it's worth, under a different coach, J.T. got his first start in his eighth pro game. He took over as a full-time starter about 30 or so games in.