Robinson was selected fifth overall in the 2012 draft after tallying 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds for the Kansas Jayhawks during their 2011-12 season. An extremely athletic power forward, Robinson was considered one of the top big men in the draft.
Despite Robinson’s potential, the Kings rarely took advantage of his assets, relegating the 6’10” forward to a bench role and limited minutes. They never gave him much of a chance to shine, and worked out a deal with the Houston Rockets within 48 hours (per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports):
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
Houston-Sacramento deal for Thomas Robinson came together within 48 hours, hatched on Monday and completed today, league source tells Y!2013-2-21 05:28:50
In exchange for Robinson, Tyler Honeycutt and Francisco Garcia, the Kings received Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas and $1 million (per Wojnarowski). While Patterson is having a breakout season, Robinson was the headliner of the deal, and Houston is excited to have him, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com:
David Aldridge @daldridgetnt
ICYMI: Told unequivocally that the Rockets will NOT flip Thomas Robinson in any trade scenario. Team "loves" him, per source.2013-2-21 17:00:38
What all this means for Robinson is simple: He has a fresh start.
It’s not often a lottery pick is dealt during his rookie season, especially one with the talent Robinson possesses. Houston is a terrific landing spot for the young forward, and he’ll be in a great position to have an impact in the team’s final 26 games.
Robinson has the athleticism and toughness to be a star in the NBA. His rebounding skills are excellent, and while his defense still needs some refinement, he has a chance to do big things in Houston.
Robinson only averaged 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in Sacramento, due in large part to lack of playing time, and also in part because of the presence of DeMarcus Cousins in the paint. He wasn’t asked to do too much, but he also wasn’t given the opportunity.
A change of scenery is exactly what the 21-year-old rookie needs to get his career on track. The situation in Sacramento isn’t exactly conducive to player development, but Houston presents the forward with a more stable situation, and probably more minutes from night to night.
With a subpar frontcourt that hasn’t been Houston’s strength this season, Robinson has a chance to earn his minutes and show the Rockets he can be an impact player for years to come. He didn’t get that chance in Sacramento, but he’s certainly capable of big things.