On the heels of Media Day and in the midst of training camp, we’ll wrap up our player previews for the upcoming season with the training camp invites. Cole Aldrich, Thomas Robinson and local kid RJ Hunter will be vying to make the opening night roster. Here is a short preview of each.
The New Orleans Pelicans selected the 6’11 big man from Kansas University with the 11th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. The former lottery pick has mostly been a career journeyman, never averaging more than 16 minutes per game in any of his NBA stops. He has averaged 3.1 points and 3.3 boards for his career.
Aldrich is a little bit of a question mark as to what he can provide. He only appeared in 21 games last season and averaged less than three minutes a night. He was buried in a deep Timberwolves front court last season and hasn’t seen consistent minutes since playing 13.3 a night with the Clippers in 2015-16. The last good highlight mix I could find from him on Youtube was a game against the Miami Heat in January 2016. Just to give you an idea of how long ago that was, Chris Bosh (!!) played in that game.
If it isn’t painfully obvious in that video, Aldrich is a classic back-to-the-basket center who rebounds and gets his points on post-ups and hook shots (boy does he utilize that hook shot). I don’t know exactly how he fits in on this Hawks team. With guys like Trae Young and John Collins being the future of the team, trying to accommodate a slower paced center doesn’t seem like it fits the future of the team. It will be interesting to keep tabs on his performance and minutes in preseason games.
The second of the three camp invites is another Kansas big man lotto pick-turned-journeyman. Thomas Robinson has put up slightly more impressive career numbers than Aldrich has, albeit with more expectations as the fifth overall selection of the 2012 draft. “T-Rob” has averaged 4.9 points and 4.8 boards a night in seven NBA seasons. The last NBA squad he played for was the Lakers in 2016-17 when he played 11.7 minutes per game in 48 games. Robinson has never averaged less than 11 minutes per game for his career.
Despite getting decent minutes with every team, Robinson has had little consistency in the league. He has played for six teams in seven seasons and Portland has been the only team that he has stuck with for longer than a year. His style of play fits better with Atlanta than Aldrich’s does, but he likely won’t figure in to the long term plans of the team, which is to be expected of camp invites anyways.
Robinson is a decent defender and a much more versatile player than Aldrich. He can excel against slower bigs, such as Zaza Pachulia at the start of this highlight video. He is more built for the modern NBA than Aldrich is, although Robinson doesn’t take threes.
We’re gonna go ahead and start this part off the right way ⬇️
For those of you who quit following Hunter after that NCAA tournament, the former Georgia State guard was selected 28th overall by the Boston Celtics in the 2015 NBA draft. Outside of his rookie 2015-16 season in Beantown, Hunter has played in a grand total of... eight NBA games. Yikes. But that first year in Boston was a good one. He only appeared in 36 games and averaged 2.7 points on .486/.302/.857 shooting. Those aren’t very impressive numbers although he only averaged 8.8 minutes per game in a crowded Celtics back court.
Hunter is a microwave shooter who doesn’t do a whole lot else. He’s one of those weird kind of shooters who is really good when he’s hot but sometimes he launches and his shot just doesn’t fall. The below video tabs Hunter as “a pure shooter who can’t really shoot”, which is fairly accurate.
Personally, I thought that Hunter deserved Boston’s last roster spot before the 2016-17 season. Instead the C’s chose James Young to fill that spot. He has shown that he can be a spark on offense, but overall he doesn’t really move the needle for anyone. His rookie year highlights prove that he’s most effective being a spot up shooter and letting people create for him.
If any of these three are going to make the roster, I would think that it’s likely a race between Hunter and Robinson, but it is worth a reminder that the Hawks already have 15 guaranteed contracts and both two-way spots filled.
Watch for these guys in training camp and keep an eye on their minutes throughout preseason.