Nate Robinson’s strange season
|01.21.11 at 7:33 pm ET|
One of the keys to having a player like Nate Robinson on a team like the Celtics is allowing him to do what he does best. Robinson is a scorer in a point guard’s body and it’s taken some time for both the player and the team to adjust to each other.
When he first arrived Robinson wanted to prove that he could fit in on an unselfish team, but his ability to create his own shot was exactly the reason they got him. Then there was the defensive end. Doc Rivers wanted him to defend fullcourt and it wasn’t until the playoffs that they got on the same page.
This season has been a different story. Robinson is playing defense. As our friends at Celtics Hub noticed, Robinson is part of the NBA’s best five-man unit in terms of defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) according to Basketball Value. The other four are Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal.
Playing with Garnett will make anyone’s team defensive numbers look better, but Robinson has taken to his role as a fullcourt pest, forcing his opponent to burn shot-clock time to get the ball over halfcourt.
On the other end, Robinson has become the high usage player the team envisioned, but his shot isn’t falling as it has in the past and there are times when perhaps he gets a little too perimeter heavy. Coming into Friday’s game with Utah, Robinson is shooting just 35 percent (21-for-60) in his last 10 games and has taken a rather incredible 55 of those shots from 16 feet and out.
Has he become too jumpshot happy?
“Depends on the shot,” Rivers said. “I’ll leave it there. We want him to make shots. He’s got open shots that he’s not making or making, I’m fine with that. But he does take some you don’t like. Honestly, with Nate I pretty much leave him alone. I’ll tell him after a game but I don’t think you correct a shooter during a game. Usually that’s with your teammates, they’re body language will tell him that that was a horrible shot.”
Asked if he wanted Robinson to try to get to the basket more (he’s taken just two shots at the rim in the last 10 games), Rivers said he’d like him to use more of his mid-range game, which has also been relatively non-existent.
“Not really,” Rivers said. “At his size getting to the basket is very difficult and very difficult for him to finish. I like his in-between game better than I do all the way to the basket.”
All that said Robinson has given the Celtics games and minutes. When Rajon Rondo was out with his various leg ailments, Robinson stepped in and soaked up major minutes. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but he did the job that was asked. The Celtics believe that when Delonte West returns from a broken wrist it will allow Robinson to really flourish. Until then, he is still searching for the elusive happy medium.