I have been a little obsessed with Thomas Robinson these past few weeks of the draft season, especially since the lottery. The realism to the idea that we could package trades to get the T-Rx has been cause for a lot of comments, posts, and dishes sitting on the counter way past when I told my wife I'd finish them. I believe his is a future All-Star, and could be a dominant center in the NBA.
The response to this has been pretty common: don't hire a power forward to do a center's job. I don't buy it. Not for Robinson. I'll concede that there are few power forwards that can or should make that transition, but I think he is one of them. I'll throw the numbers up again: 18 points and 17 rebounds against Anthony Davis and the Wildcats. Best defensive rebounder in the NCAA, with 32% of the defensive boards being his. Second in NCAA in double-doubles.
There is a number that I think scares people off from the idea, though: 6'9". Robinson is one or two very psychologically-charged inches shy of being a shoe-in at the 5. A recent Fanpost got me thinking about this issue of the "undersized" center. The 4/5. In my curiosity, I browsed a list - one of the best I have seen compiled - of the top-100 players in NBA history. Special thanks to Basketball Journalist for all the hard work involved in that. Here are some of the sub-6'11" centers and pf-centers who made the list:
Bill Russell 6'9" 220
Moses Malone 6'10" 260
Willis Reed 6'9" 240
Elvin Hayes 6'9" 235
David Cowens 6'9" 230
Wes Unseld 6'7" 245
Bill McAdoo 6'9" 210
Dan Issel 6'9" 235
Alonzo Mourning 6'10 261
Spencer Haywood 6'8" 235
George McGinnis 6'8" 235
Among the notables that did not make the list is 4-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, who at 6'9", 240 lbs is Robinson's virtual double.
No draftee is a sure thing. We, of all teams, should know this. Still, Robinson is about as sure as it gets.
And Portland's about due to draft a game-changing, hall-of-fame center.