But so far, this is not the player for whom the Celtics traded Eddie House (and Bill Walker, and J.R. Giddens). I’ve never really liked Nate Robinson (that’s an understatement, actually), but I backed the trade because Robinson brings two skills Eddie House doesn’t really have. In order of importance:
1) Ability to get to the rim;
2) Ball-handling/passing—i.e., passable point guard skills.
I haven’t noticed much of either so far, and the numbers back up that impression.
In 2008, 192 of Robinson’s 782 shot attempts (24.5 percent) came at the rim, according to Hoopdata.
In 2009, 306 of Robinson’s 1028 shot attempts (29.8 percent) came at the rim.
Only about a dozen point guards in the entire league got to the rim as often as Robinson over those two seasons—and all but one of them played significantly more minutes than Robinson. (I went over the numbers in this post, if you’re interested).
In nine games with Boston, only 10 of Robinson’s 56 shot attempts (17.8 percent, about one attempt per game) have come at the rim. He has made just three of them.
To Nate’s credit, the shot attempts he used to take at the rim are now coming from three-point range—and he’s made 13 of 29 (45 percent) from deep with Boston. If a guard with a decent three-point stroke stops attacking the rim, you generally prefer him to shoot more threes instead of long two-pointers. Robinson has only attempted 11 two-point jumpers beyond 15-feet since joining Boston, and that is in line with the percentage of shots Robinson has taken from that range in each of the last two seasons.
More than half of Robinson’s shot attempts in Boston have been threes. Nate is a career 35.6 percent shooter from deep, so we should expect his three-point percentage to settle in at about that level.
Here’s the thing: The Celtics already had a little back-up guard taking more than half his shots from three-point range; Nate was supposed to bring something new to the offense.
And he hasn’t—yet. Even his assist rate (the percentage of Boston baskets he assists on during his time on the court) is down from 26 percent in New York to 21 percent in Boston. That’s much higher than House’s typical assist rate, which hovered around 10 percent in Boston.
It’s up to 19 percent since he joined the Knicks.
Nate just got here, and he probably needs time to learn the schemes on both ends. There’s also the possibility that the coaches have told him to take more threes and worry less about getting into the lane; after all, Robinson has played almost all of his minutes in line-ups that include either Rajon Rondo or Marquis Daniels, both of whom can handle point guard duties.
But to me, if this trade is to be worthwhile, Robinson has to attack the rim and get into the teeth of the defense.
Otherwise, what was the point?