He may have been wearing a practice jersey — and the games may not count — but Thomas Robinson finally got his first introduction to the NBA with two summer league games over the weekend for the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas.
First reviews: The former Kansas All-American certainly held his own — even if he wasn’t quite happy with his performance.
Robinson, the No. 5 overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft, averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games, including a 14-point, 12-rebound effort against the Lakers on Saturday. (Watch game highlights from Saturday here.) That came on the heels of a 19-point performance in a 121-87 loss to Charlotte in the summer league opener. But Robinson also had just five rebounds while committing eight turnovers in 29 minutes in the loss.
“I played horrible,” Robinson told the Sacramento Bee.
“I wanted to do so good today, and I did the complete opposite. I wasn’t nervous at all. I just wanted to do so good. It just didn’t happen.”
The instant takeaway from some Kings teammates and coaches has been a little different — with the 6-foot-9, 244-pound Robinson being lauded for his physicality and motor.
“I remember when LeBron James came in the league,” Kings assistant coach Alex English said last week, “how he used to drive to the hole, and he was so big and strong that people would get out of his way. (Robinson is) kind of like that.
“I mean, he’s not that player. But when he goes to the hole, he goes hard. He goes strong. He’s got a lot of power.”
Taylor impresses in Orlando
Robinson’s summer debut came just as fellow rookie Tyshawn Taylor was completing a strong performance in the Orlando summer league.
Taylor, a second-round selection last month, averaged 15.5 points and 2.5 assists while shooting 44 percent from the field for the Brooklyn Nets. Only five other players — including former Grandview star Alec Burks — averaged more points during the five-day league.
Jackson back with the Kings
Former KU forward Darnell Jackson, a starter on the 2008 National Championship team, is back in the NBA alongside Robinson in Sacramento.
Jackson, 26, spent the 2010-11 season with the Kings, averaging 3.2 points in 59 games, but he signed with BC Donetsk of the Ukrainian Basketball Super League during the NBA lockout last season.
It was hardly a cushy experience. Long practices. Grueling schedules. New country. All that stuff.
“I think the biggest thing that helped me over there is finding who I really am as a person and a basketball player,” Jackson told the Sacramento Bee.
But now Jackson is back in the U.S., 25 pounds lighter than when he last played in the NBA, and ready to battle for a roster spot.
“I was calling home every day: ‘I’m quitting, I’m quitting, I’m coming home,’” Jackson said. “But the biggest thing I love is, I love challenges. The coach I had was always prepared, every day, and everything was full-speed. I loved it, and the guys were in shape.
“I just thank the Lord I’m back home in the States.”
Other Summer League performances
Former KU center Cole Aldrich averaged 5.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in four games for Oklahoma City in Orlando … former KU forward Markieff Morris had 21 points and nine rebounds in his opener in Las Vegas. Former KU guard Josh Selby had 20 points in 25 minutes in the Memphis Grizzlies’ first game in Vegas.