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Red's Army

Is Nate Robinson heading for Doc’s doghouse?

RedsArmyAdmin January 28, 2011 Uncategorized 8 Comments

Nate 3 sign
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

By early in the 4th quarter last night, The Celtics had built a double digit lead and they were starting to build an insurmountable lead.  Von Wafer had just made a layup and then a seven footer to build the lead to 14… which is precisely the point of the game where a lot of us had the same thought:

Where is Nate Robinson?  

Nate barely played five minutes last night… which is more than the three-and-change he played against Portland the first time around.  So I'll preface this entire post with the caveat that Doc might hate the Nate matchup against Portland's bigger guards.  

Nate's getting about 14 minutes of playing time in January… down from the 26 he played in December but those numbers are inflated because he started 8 games.  Again… not necessarily an indication that Nate's losing a job. 

But Von Wafer is getting more time.  He's up to 12.2 minutes per game in January.  Which, at the very least, means Doc is open to other options rather than just playing Nate or Rondo or Ray more.  In return, Von Wafer has played pretty well, having his best shooting month of the season while also doing other things for the team (like rebounding and playing defense).  Add to that the impending return of Delonte West, which is still about a month away, and you've got the recipe for Nate losing a bit of playing time… or all of it. 

Just watching the games you can see Nate is taking some terrible shots.  People who listened to the game on the radio last night heard Grande & Max talking about his bad shot selection.  Bill Walton also called Nate out on the broadcast last night… which means in just about five minutes, Nate had already taken a bad enough shot to draw the ire of both broadcast teams.

Looking at his shot selection:  Nate is taking just one shot per game at the rim this season… compared to 3.7 threes per game.  In January, he's taken 0.3 shots per game at the rim… almost nothing.  But his three point shooting is still the same.  Compare that to his best year as a Knick, 2008-09 where he averaged 17.2 ppg and you'll see that in twice as much playing time, he only took 1.5 more threes per game but he was taking 4.1 shots per game at the rim. 

So Nate has evolved into an almost exclusive outside shooter who barely attacks the rim anymore…. and it's gotten worse this month.  That's not the most shocking conclusion to anyone who has paid attention to his game for the past few years.  And when Doc Rivers tells Nate to "be Nate"… I'm sure part of that includes Nate getting past a defender and attacking.  

We've brought up the possibility of Nate DNP's before… and if last season is any indication… a stretch of Nate DNP's won't exactly be permanent.  Doc knows Nate can explode on any given night.  But right now he's shooting 35.6% (32.8% in his last 10 games).  His shot selection is as bad as ever and other guys (well, one other guy) are getting more playing time than before.  

Doc might not have much choice right now but to play Nate because he's the best option to back up Rondo… but it seems to me that Nate is on his way to some extended pine time.  The numbers and circumstances all seem to add up to DNP's. 

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  • Jason

    To answer the title, I sure freaking hope so. I’d been on the fence with him for soooo long, seeing so much talent, but being perpetually disappointment in his actual performances. It was a few games ago I finally reached a tipping point and had enough of him for good. Delonte and Wafer can both shoot better, drive better, create better and defend better. They also make better decisions. Bury Nate on the bench PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE.
    Delonte, Wafer, Quisy to spell Rondo, Ray and Pierce? That’ll do. Baby for KG and Shaq for Perk. Perfect depth. And in case of emergency, you’ve now got Semih, Nate, Luke and Jermaine all with some actual experience (and success). How nice is that? Danny and Doc deserve some accolades.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/the_bantam the_bantam

    It’s funny, when you had posted a few days ago that Rondo was playing too many minutes in a sleeper, I along with probably many thought, ‘Nate must be in the doghouse.’
    It seems like Nate should be in a comfortable spot, the players trust him so it’s curious why he is in a slump. If this is a strategy by Doc or just the mere fact that Nate’s been off, I hope the down time helps him. He can definitely provide a spark, and it’s been said that when West comes back Nate might be more comfortable.
    Also, it is tough to be picky on this team. He’s having a rough stretch so he’s not playing as much, it could be as simple as that.

  • greenbeand

    i expected more from nate

  • Pete

    Wee-Rasheed

  • Classless

    He’s essentially a mini-three point shooter…who sucks at shooting 3′s. Plus, he can’t defend. Nate, meet bench.

  • http://TheCBBG.blogspot.com Tessa

    I feel for the little guy. I think that he’s bought in to the Celtics sytem and wants to play his role, but in order to do so, he’s had to step outside of his natural game… I think this is a classic case of him over thinking his game (we’ve seen this happen wtih Davis, when he starts aiming instead of shooting, and suddenly the shots aren’t falling for him) I think that the return of Delonte could help him out, by taking him off the ball and maybe getting his shooting going a little more. In the mean time, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for him to break out of his slump and light it up, because I think he wants nothing more than to help this team win.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/redsarmy Red’s Army

    I think you have something there… and I made sure not to question Nate’s enthusiasm or attitude. It’s just his performance is not where it should be.
    Maybe when Delonte comes back Nate will feel more comfortable doing what he does….. but it might take a while before he gets it together

  • http://TheCBBG.blogspot.com Tessa

    True, and kudus for not questioning his enthusiasm/attitude (how could you, when he’s one of the most visibly fired up guys on the sidelines rooting his teammates on)- but I think that that’s the first place many people go to when guys aren’t performing up to standard. I agree that he should attack the rim more- if nothing more it would mean easier points for him, and it could help his shooting stroke get back in to more of a rhythm- Tommy is always talking about how it helps to see the ball go through the net. I’m not a big Von Wafer girl (yet, at least), but I’m not against upping his minutes a bit in the interim.