Home » Kings grab stud power forward, Thomas Robinson slips to the fifth pick
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Kings grab stud power forward, Thomas Robinson slips to the fifth pick

As I sat in the Sacramento Kings media room at Power Balance Pavilion on Thursday afternoon, my heart sank when the Charlotte Bobcats took Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft.

A small forward that can score at the rim is a burning need for the team and I was really looking forward to watching this kid’s defensive and rebounding skills along with the motor he brings to the table. Guys like him don’t lower their level of play — they make the other players on the team raise their collective enthusiasm and desire for the game.

But when Dion Waiters, a shooting guard out of Syracuse, was picked by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the fourth overall pick in the draft, the possibility of the Kings filling one of their greatest needs — a solid forward that can play right away — came true.

Boom!

The pick came in and Thomas Robinson, a power forward out of Kansas, fell right in their lap.

Robinson, who averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game in his junior year and final year, unofficially became a Sacramento King.

“Thank God I’m here,” said Robinson, as he appeared to hold back tears when asked how it felt to be drafted after everything he’s been through in the past year.

Robinson lost his grandmother in December 2011, his grandfather in the middle of January of this year and then his mother less than a week later. All of them passed within three weeks of each other.

You could tell that he yearned for them to be there on this special night, as the young man was overcome with emotion.

“I don’t know where that came from. I worked hard to get here and I’m able to see it play right out in front of me and it really got emotional.”

Sacramento also picked Orlando Johnson with the 36th pick in the draft, but traded him to the Indiana Pacers for cash considerations.

As for Robinson, he wants to wear uniform number zero. By picking that specific number, it’s like he needs and wants to prove it to himself all over again.

“I want to bring my hard work and my ethic back there. The whole attitude of winning again. Just be who I am and that’s a hardworking person.”

Sacramento Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie was not expecting Robinson to fall all the way to the fifth pick.

“Even as of this morning, we were fairly sure that he wouldn’t be at five but that’s why the draft is the draft,” said Petrie. “We certainly have a need there with our depth up front. He’s going to bring a lot of competitive spirit. He’s a ferocious rebounder. He had a lot of quickness, a lot of speed and quick feet. I think he’ll be a great addition to the team.”

His hard work paid off for Kansas, as he earned his way into the starting rotation this season and never looked back. He already understands that this is the continuation of a voyage and not the end of one.

“My journey is not over. I’ve got to come in and work hard again and get back to the top.”

The 21-year-old from Washington, D.C., can’t wait to see what he brings to the dynamic duo of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.

“With Tyreke at the guard spot and DeMarcus down low, they are both tough kids and I just want to bring the same toughness to this club with rebounding and energy.”

He’s especially excited to be paired down low with The Big Cuz.

“My biggest thrill is playing besides someone that you know what kind of player they can be,” said Robinson. “In DeMarcus, he’s tough. He’s a young player. He’s gonna play hard. He’s going to help keep my intensity up with no problem because he’s gonna be going hard."

Keith Smart, in his first full season at the helm of the Kings, loves that Robinson has a “live body,” a motor already and some unique skills that made him a great pick.

But again, it was what Robinson has been through in the past six months that set him apart.

“(But) the maturity level that he has,” said Smart, “he’s faced so much already, it let us know that he’s a veteran so to speak coming into our basketball team who is already seasoned.”

Think about it. The kid needs no extra incentive to play his heart out as a pro, after all the loss he’s suffered at such a young age.

“It’s the only reason I’m here. It’s my motivation,” said Robinson.

When asked by NBA TV’s Craig Sager what he would tell his mother if she was there for that moment, Robinson simply said, as he was still visibly emotionally affected, that he had held up his end of the bargain.

“I kept my promise,” said Robinson. “I told her I was going to do it.” 

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