Thomas Robinson is hardly the first NBA player to face mounting pressure to perform as he enters his second season, but few have seen so much upheaval so early. In a year's time, Robinson has already been cast off by two teams, with neither -- including the franchise that drafted him with the No. 5 overall pick just months earlier -- deeming him above trading. That meandering path has taken him from Sacramento to Houston to Portland, and leaves him with much to prove in terms of his place and value in the NBA.
Robinson understands this, and as early as the Las Vegas Summer League was insisting that dirty work would be his way back into the league's good graces. With limited range, a turnover-heavy game, and unschooled defense, that makes sense; Robinson has the athleticism to be the first to many loose balls and the drive to outwork his opponents at every turn, provided he remains committed to that directive.
So far, so good -- in this clip, we see Robinson's effort in action. As the Blazers move the ball up-court, Robinson lingers just out of frame. But as soon as Nicolas Batum hoists up a three-point attempt from the left corner, Robinson fires to the rim, catches the board with one hand, and finishes over both Kings forward Patrick Patterson and fellow Blazer Robin Lopez. It's with this kind of play that Robinson, who is averaging 8.0 rebounds in just 20.5 minutes per game in the preseason, can redeem himself in short order. He'll be expected to develop into a more complete player in due time, but for now Robinson needs to consistently display the energy and athleticism that helped set him apart as a prospect in the first place.