How Nate Robinson Is Shedding His One-Dimensional Label with Chicago Bulls

Haddon Anderson@HaddonAndersonAnalyst INovember 24, 2012

Robinson is averaging 12.8 PPG and 4.1 APG on the season.
Robinson is averaging 12.8 PPG and 4.1 APG on the season.Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

Nate Robinson has typically been a one-dimensional player, but he is in the process of shedding that label with the Chicago Bulls.

Throughout Robinson's career, he's been viewed solely as an offensive spark plug. He can shoot you into games on occasion, but there are also times when he will shoot you out of games.

This has been Robinson's label since he entered the league in 2005—that he is clearly a one-dimensional player. He can be an X-factor on a given night due to his offensive firepower, but he's never been a guy who has revealed multiple dimensions to his game.

He is in the process of shedding this label amid the 2012-13 season. His presence with the Chicago Bulls has afforded him the opportunity to uncover and display new facets, and these dimensions will be pivotal throughout Chicago's venture.

It must be said that Robinson is still far from being a top-notch point guard. He has already had some "dud" performances with the Bulls, but he at least is contributing more across the board than in the past. 

One particular way he's contributing more is on the defensive end. Perhaps the vigor he's playing with defensively is a result of Tom Thibodeau's emphasis upon defense, but at any rate, he's been giving considerable effort here all season. 

He's typically picking up opposing point guards full court and hounding them up the floor. He does this relentlessly, and this tenacity takes a toll on the ball-handler. 

Because of Robinson's height (5'9''), he'll always be at a disadvantage, and some elite floor generals will expose him. This happened when the Bulls battled Boston a couple weeks ago, and Rajon Rondo torched Robinson. (But Rondo tends to torch just about every point guard, so let's not overanalyze this.)

But Robinson makes up for his lack of height by pressuring the ball constantly. This concerted effort gives him value on both ends of the floor. He's proving that he's not just an offensive weapon but that he can actually be an asset on the defensive end as well.

There's still some mechanical work to iron out defensively, such as when he went under a ball screen that led to a crucial Houston three-pointer on Wednesday night, but overall, he's heading in the right direction and proving that his defense is not a liability.

He's also shedding his one-dimensional label on the offensive end, particularly through his ability to run an offense.

Since he's always been more of a free-firing gunner off the bench who can quickly rattle off points, he hasn't been viewed as a point guard who can stabilize an offense.

With the Bulls, he's shown an ability to run the offense with patience. In fact, the offense looks much more adept with Robinson quarterbacking the plays than when veteran Kirk Hinrich is in the game. Hinrich is shooting a measly 30.5 percent on the season and has looked out of place as a starting point guard.

As a result of Hinrich's poor play, the Bulls have been in need of a playmaking point guard who can effectively govern an offense and create plays when needed. Robinson has displayed that he's capable of this.

Quite frankly, he has displayed this and more. Consider the following statistic.

According to Real GM Sports, Robinson is currently averaging (per 36 minutes) 19.98 points per game and 6.38 assists per game.

Look at how Golden State Warriors featured guard Stephen Curry's numbers compare to Robinson's: 18.95 PPG and 5.58 APG; or, the Portland Trail Blazers' rookie phenom Damian Lillard's: 18.78 PPG and 5.62 APG.

We don't need to rush to conclusions and presume that Robinson is at the same level as such marquee players, but this statistic does reveal that Robinson has much in his repertoire.

He's honestly not that far behind some of the more prominent playmaking point guards, and this statistic magnifies how he's not merely a one-dimensional player. He has the tools to be an effective point guard, and he should be receiving more playing time to showcase these abilities.

If this discussion needs any more convincing, there is one more element to analyze. This element is the way in which Robinson is scoring. He's always been a player who can cash the three-ball. In 2008-09, he averaged over five three-point attempts a game with the New York Knicks, and scoring in this fashion was clearly a focal point of his game.

He does much more than just cash long-range shots now. He's been hitting the mid-range jumper and also scoring off floaters and penetrations to the rim. He's simply the type of player who keeps the defense on its toes. They don't know if he's going to pull up from the outside or attack off the dribble and create a more high-percentage shot. 

These different maneuvers exclaim how his game has matured and added new layers. He's capable of beating the defense in an array of ways, and he can do it both from the inside and outside, as well as both shooting and passing.

Robinson will never join the elite ranks of point guards, but his play this season has exclaimed his value. Not only is he shedding the one-dimensional label, but he is also revealing that his value is actually much higher than what we perceive.

The numbers don't lie, and Nate Rob is worthy to be receiving the bulk of Chicago's point guard minutes, where he can consistently place his multiple dimensions on display.