Nate Robinson: The Mini Mamba Rises?
The veteran minimum signing (1 year, $854,389) of vertically-challenged Nate Robinson was initially received with groans and face palms from the majority of Bulls Nation. The lack of enthusiasm was justified considering the newest Bull’s most distinct honor to date has been the only 3-time slam dunk champion in league history. Even worse, Robinson’s erratic antics could infamously qualify him as the “Javale McGee” of undersized guards.
However, if we reluctantly accept the fact of ownership’s tight pockets & the circumstance of the roster’s 12th man vacancy, the acquisition of Robinson should actually be deemed a solid upgrade. Obviously, Nate Robinson is not intended to fill the void left by an injured Derrick Rose. However, his talent and theatrics should more than compensate for the loss of other Bulls, plural.
Robinson is naturally reminiscent of John Lucas III due to their limited statures, but their similarities also extend into their ball-stopping (black hole?) tendencies as shoot-first point guards. Regardless, Robinson has demonstrated athleticism and explosiveness far superior to Lucas. These qualities should create more opportunities for teammates off penetration in lieu of shot-clock draining sequences that became habit during JL3’s tenure. Robinson and recently acquired shooting guard, Marco Belinelli, should provide the Bulls with their most offensively balanced & potent backcourt off the bench in recent years.
The likely alternative to Robinson this season at the third point guard slot was rookie Marquis Teague. Unfortunately for Teague, he underwhelmed during his first stint as an NBA player at last month’s summer league. Teague struggled during games and failed to show a decent level of basketball IQ as a result of his frequent turnovers and poor shooting. In 5 summer league games, Teague averaged more turnovers than assists, and shot under 30% from the field. Yes, it was only summer league, but you’d hope to see more promise than project from your first round draft pick. Consequently, the 7 year veteran Robinson is a more conservative and reliable option to contribute immediately off the bench.
From a casual fan’s perspective, Robinson fits the role nicely of Chicago’s next cult hero. Fans will be drawn to the “little engine that can” who effectively replaces Brian “The White Mamba” Scalabrine as the team’s bench mascot. Despite the aforementioned Javale-like shenanigans, Robinson does have a history of bringing an unmatched energy to the floor as arguably the NBA’s best hype man under 6 feet… for better or worse. At the very least, Robinson should often entertain the United Center crowd and predictably earn the nickname “Mini Mamba” from Bulls announcer, Stacey King. Unfortunately, during a Bulls season of low expectations and “treading water”, Robinson may not have many opportunities to symbolize a human victory cigar like his predecessor.
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