There's no bigger beneficiary of Mike D'Antoni's decision to bench Stephon Marbury than Nate Robinson. He's the first guard off the bench, seeing more minutes than before and playing in an offensive system that is well matched for his skill set. The team declined to offer him a contract extension before the season, however. Was that a wise move?
The short answer (no pun intended) is yes. Robinson has a nice mix of skills, but it's still really hard to see how he fits as a building block for a brighter Knicks future. Take last night's performance. A 19-point second quarter and five first-half threes helped the team to a halftime tie, but also turned the ball over three times and picked up four personal fouls. He did more bad than good last night, but wasn't able to spark anything in the second half when the game was starting to get away from the Knicks.
He's an incredible athlete who can put up points in bunches. There isn't much else he does to help the team win, though. He's a decent passer, but prefers to shoot and gambles on plays that wind up in turnovers far too often. That gambling also enables him to rack up steals, but also leads to blown assignments and a copious amount of fouls. The things he does well tend to dissapate the more he plays, so much so that the team can't count on him for anything more than a bench role.
He's also a tough fit because of his size. Robinson is a shooting guard in a small point guard's body, which is problematic on a team that could really use a point guard. His turnovers make it impossible for him to play the point regularly, and his defensive shortcomings make it hard for him to share time with Chris Duhon. There's place for a player like Robinson on a good team, 10-15 minutes off the bench, but you can't build around him.
That's been the problem as the Knicks try to dig out of the hole they've built themselves. Robinson, David Lee, Wilson Chandler and even the departed Renaldo Balkman do some things well, but not enough to become the foundation of a winning team.