Thomas Robinson won't concede top spot, Wizards can go big at No. 3


Washington native Thomas Robinson, right, led Kansas to the NCAA title game in April. (JEFF HAYNES/REUTERS)

Thomas Robinson isn’t willing to concede anything to Anthony Davis, even though he knows exactly what the New Orleans Hornets plan to do with the No. 1 overall pick.

Robinson certainly respects Davis and all that he accomplished in his one season at Kentucky, but he still firmly believes that he is the best player in the June 28 NBA draft. When he heard that Davis arrived for his interview session this week wearing a T-shirt that read, “Check My Stats,” Robinson laughed to himself and offered a rebuttal.

“If you want to check the stats, then I’d be the number one pick, easily. If that’s what you want to do,” Robinson, a consensus first-team all-American from Kansas, said with a laugh. “I should get one of those shirts. Get a shirt that say, ‘Numbers don’t lie.’ ”

Robinson said he picked up his competitive side while battling in the District — where backing down is not an option and showing respect is allowed but “not too much,” he said — and that helped him rise from being an unheralded prospect, to a backup his first two years at Kansas, to now a top-five pick.

“I’m a grown man. I don’t feel that I should hide my thoughts. And I don’t feel I’m saying anything wrong,” Robinson said. “Anybody that competes in this game, most of them are probably not saying it, but I’m sure they feel that way. This draft is very deep with talent. It’s a lot of guys that could be the number one pick. Anthony Davis is definitely worthy of the number one pick. We all know that. I don’t want to get my words mixed up, but I compete, just like everyone else.”


Connecticut's Andre Drummond, center, could get a look from the Wizards, who hold the No. 3 pick in the June 28 NBA draft. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Washington could address their need for perimeter help with several talented wing players available to them at the No. 3 pick — including Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Florida’s Bradley Beal and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes — but the team has only two starting positions set with Nene and John Wall, giving the Wizards the flexibility to go in a number of directions.

They have drafted three big men in the past two drafts — Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Jan Vesely — but Washington also has interest in the 21-year-old Robinson, arguably the most NBA-ready player expected to go early in the draft. The Wizards also could go even bigger with Connecticut freshman center Andre Drummond, an intriguing prospect who has considerable upside but remains a mystery.

Robinson will work out for his hometown team on Tuesday at Verizon Center. He hasn’t hidden his desire to play for the Wizards, but he won’t be too upset if the Charlotte Bobcats take him second overall. He said he had been looking forward to his meeting with the Wizards on Thursday, when the two sides discussed his background and he let them know that he was willing to play whatever role they asked of him.

“You’re going to have distractions everywhere. This whole league is full of distractions. I’m not worried about that,” Robinson said, when asked about playing in Washington, where he would be closer with his 9-year-old sister, Jayla. The siblings lost their mother, Lisa, to a heart attack last year. “It would be great to go back home and to hold my city down. To be back where it all started would be great for my family. I wouldn’t have to move my family around a lot.”

Robinson averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds and posted 27 double-doubles while leading the Jayhawks to the championship game last season. He doesn’t know exactly where he’ll wind up, but the 6-foot-9 junior power forward said he would take note of the teams that overlook him. “I’m going to feel offended,” Robinson said. “I’m going to go after every team I step on the floor against. It’s not going to be a specific team that I go out and try to kill. I’m trying to kill everybody.”

The 6-foot-10 Drummond doesn’t have the same feisty attitude as Robinson, and his sometimes passive play during his one season at Connecticut raised questions about his motor and desire. Drummond, who is still projected to be a top-five pick, said the perception doesn’t match the reality as it related to him.

“I always have a smile on my face,” said Drummond, who averaged 10 points and 7.6 rebounds last season. “Some people see me and say, ‘He’s too happy all the time. He’s not really serious.’ But that’s just the person I am.”

Drummond brought his sense of humor to his interview with the Wizards, as he made a joke about the size of the contingent to start the meeting. He lost nearly 22 pounds in preparation for the draft — changing his diet to eliminate fast food, sodas and his main weakness, cookies — but still remains an imposing physical presence.

Some scouts believe that he has the potential to blossom into a dominant big man in a league limited on quality size. Though he won’t turn 19 until August, Drummond doesn’t believe that the team that takes him will have to wait long for him to become a consistent contributor.

“I feel when I come in, right from the jump, as soon as I get on the court, I’m going to work my hardest. Work my tail off on defense, grab a lot of rebounds, block some shots and try to put some points on the board,” Drummond said. “It’s going to be tough, to make that transition from college to the NBA and it’s not too many people that can make that jump that easily. I’m not saying I’m going to come out there and have 30 and 15 every game. I’m saying I’m gong to do the best that I can.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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