Robinson's game continues to grow with Blazers

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

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TUALATIN, Ore. — At this time two years ago, Thomas Robinson’s team was getting ready to play against Anthony Davis’s team in the 2012 NCAA Championship game.

Fast forward two years and Robinson is doing the same as his Portland Trail Blazers will face Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans at the Moda Center on Sunday.

Robinson’s path hasn’t been as smooth as Davis’, who went to his first All-Star Game this season at the age of 20. You likely know the story by now: traded twice, got benched in December for not moving the ball on offense, picked up a few DNP’s in between.

However, Robinson has really started to come into his own since the All-Star break.

This will be his first full season with one team in his NBA career and since the All-Star break he has been playing nearly six minutes more per game than he was in the first 45 games he played in.

Robinson started to get more minutes and get a bigger role while LaMarcus Aldridge battled injury and Robinson needed to heal a knee issue of his own.

Since Aldridge’s return, Blazers coach Terry Stotts has had the majority of Robinson’s minutes come playing alongside Aldridge rather than playing for him. Overall this season, lineups featuring those two have performed well, outscoring teams by four points per 100 possessions and playing very good defense.

“You have Thomas’ strength, athleticism,” Stotts said. “Not only is LA very talented but I think he really helps T-Rob when he is out there as far as talking to him because LA knows the game at both ends.”

“A lot of attention is on LA when I’m on the court so it makes my job easier as far as offensive rebounding things like that,” Robinson said. “It makes the game easier when you’re on the floor with him and somebody in my position who is vocal as he is, knows the game as good as he is is going to help me a lot.”

Aldridge has relished the mentorship of Robinson this season.

“I talk to him, I try to tell him things he can do or where to be. Just trying to mentor him whenever I can. I think me being on the court with him and giving him a lot of attention makes him even more lethal because he crashes the boards and he makes things happen by being active and energetic.”

But make no mistake, Aldridge is still the power forward in this situation.

Where Robinson has helped most is rebounding and by giving the Blazers somebody who attacks the basket.

Since the All-Star break, 60 percent of Robinson’s shots have been at the rim but in the last five the ratio has been closer to 80 percent in over 15 minutes per game. He’s also grabbing five rebounds and scoring just under 8 points per game over the last five games.

However, Robinson insists the work is not over, right after he got done playing one-on-one with Will Barton and assistant coach David Vanterpool after practice on Saturday.

“I’m just trying to get a better feel and to do that I got to play a lot,” he said. “I do a lot of one-on-one if I’m trying to become a better offensive player or just to get a better feeling of the game overall.”