After retaining Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young in the opening days of free agency – the most important players in the eyes of Nets upper management – the team added two more players. Point guard Shane Larkin and power forward Thomas Robinson signed with the team.
Larkin agreed to a pact for two-years worth $3 million. According to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN other teams showed interest in Larkin, offering him greater money, but he preferred staying in New York over the increased salary.
The son of Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 2013 and traded to the Dallas Mavericks on draft night. He played for the Mavericks and New York Knicks over the last two seasons.
With both teams he struggled to identify a role and found himself on the bench with limited playing time. In his initial season with the Mavericks he played 10 minutes per game and last season for the Knicks he played 24 minutes per game. During 76 games with the Knicks, 22 of which he started Larkin averaged 6.2 points per game, 3.0 assists per game and 2.3 rebounds per game.
At 5’11 he’s undersized for the position, which, along with his below average lateral movement proves problematic when defending. Larkin produces best when driving to the paint, whether scoring or passing to open teammates when defenders surround him. As a passer Larkin helps the team the most. He finds open players and is willing to share the ball, even if it doesn’t result in an assist.
With Deron Williams, Steve Blake, Jarrett Jack and Ryan Boatright all signed to the team Larkin will join the crowded position, wrestling for playing time. Having five point guards won’t be feasible when the regular season starts and trading or releasing one or more of the guards seems imminent.
Robinson signed a two-year deal worth $2.2 million with a player option for the second season.
In 2012 Robinson was drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the fifth pick and continued to play for the Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers. He was briefly a member of the Denver Nuggets, but was waived shortly after acquired.
Whilst playing for the four different teams Robinson never averaged more than 19 minutes per game in a season. For his career he averages 5.1 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game and 0.3 blocks per game. Last season he averaged 8.8 points per game, 7.7 rebounds per game and 0.4 blocks per game for the Philadelphia 76ers.
As a rebounder and transition player Robinson flourishes. Should have Robinson continued his rebounding proficiency with the 76ers and qualified for the league leaders in rebounding he would have ranked third in ORB% and DRB% with 15.8% and 30.2%, respectively. In transition he runs fluidly and dunks on a fast break or can recover on defense to block opponents.
On a cheap contract Robinson could reap generous rewards for the Nets if his elite rebounding continues. Signing Thaddeus Young to a long-term contract means that Robinson won’t start consistently, but with a limited bench, specifically among forwards, he could enjoy an increase in minutes as a key bench player. When facing larger line-ups Robinson could defend traditional power forwards, but would struggle to close-out stretch fours who frequent the perimeter.
The Nets currently hold 17 players on the roster, which must reduce to 15 by the start of regular season.