When KU’s Thomas Robinson is selected tonight in the first round of the NBA Draft, he will almost surely become the highest drafted player during Bill Self’s nine years at Kansas.
If most projections hold, Robinson will likely go somewhere between No. 2 overall to Charlotte to No. 5 overall to Sacramento. The latest buzz, according to ESPN Draft guru Chad Ford, has the Bobcats and owner Michael Jordan zeroing in on Robinson at No. 2.
This morning, we examined how Robinson’s skillset — which made him so dominant during his junior year at Kansas — would translate to the NBA. At this point, there’s no way to know for sure if Robinson will be an All-Star power forward , a decent role player, or somewhere in between.
But from a statistical standpoint, there’s one number that suggests Robinson will at least have one above-average skill at the NBA level: Rebounding.
During his junior season, Robinson led the nation with a defensive rebounding percentage of 30.5 — meaning he grabbed more than 30 percent of all defensive rebounds while he was on the floor. In the past five years, only five players have eclipsed Robinson’s mark. And the only other player from a major conference on the list? Former Oklahoma star Blake Griffin, who has turned into an athletic superfreak for the LA Clippers.
Here’ the full list, courtesy of KenPom.com:
1 Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, 2010, 36.7
2 John Bryant, Santa Clara, 2009, 36.3
3 Eric Coleman, Northern Iowa, 2008, 35.0
4 Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, 2009, 33.8
5 Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, 2011, 31.6
6 Blake Griffin, Oklahoma, 2009, 32.4
7 Carlos Monroe, Florida Atlantic, 2008, 31.4
8 John Bryant, Santa Clara, 31.4, 2008, 31.4
9 Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, 2008, 31.0
10 Thomas Robinson, Kansas, 2012, 30.5
Michael Beasley, 2008, Kansas State 29.9
Kevin Love, 2008, UCLA, 28.5
DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh, 2009, 27.8
Faried, who was drafted 22nd overall by the Denver Nuggest last season, averaged 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds in 22 minutes per game during his rookie season. And Robinson has often been likened to a more offensively skilled version of Faried. Likewise, Love and Griffin have both been able to translate their rebounding success in college into NBA production.
In the end, Robinson’s offensive development may determine whether he can become a star. But his rebounding ability and tireless motor will likely provide a solid foundation for a productive career.