Nate Robinson: MVP Worthy
By Maurice Brooks
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LAS VEGAS, July 15, 2007 -- Moments before the Knicks took the floor for their last game at the NBA Summer League, I walked up to Nate Robinson and asked him one question.

About 10 minutes later, I finally got around to asking him a second one.

Robinson is known for his nonstop chatter. And as everyone got to see firsthand during New York’s five games in Sin City, he will soon be known as a superb lead guard, too.

From the opening tap of the Knicks’ first game, there was never a doubt as to who was in charge on the floor.

If you closely watched the action, you saw that Robinson had a way of telling guys where to be or correcting them after a mistake that didn’t come across as discipline. It was reminiscent of a big brother helping out a younger sibling.

“We’re running the same offense here that we run under Isiah (Thomas) so that makes it easier for me,” Robinson said. “I know everybody’s spot. I can tell a guy where he should have caught the ball or that he should have taken a certain shot.”

Line of the Week
D.J. Strawberry, Suns
vs. Blazers, July 14
27 points, 2 rebounds, 8 assists
10-for-18 FG, 1-for-1 3-pointers

Robinson has emerged as one of the league’s most popular players because of his size (5-feet, 9-inches) and because he has won a slam dunk title. Now, the two-year veteran is gaining notoriety for being a floor general.

“I like to have fun and I’ve been having a good time,” Robinson said. “When I’m out there, I try to make other people relax so that they don’t think about other stuff. That's the type of person I am.”

While Robinson, who finished in the top five in the league in assists with an average of six per game, was busy setting his teammates up for easy buckets, he also found time to score some points of his own. He averaged 18.8 points per game on 48 percent from the field for New York, which finished 5-0 after defeating the Nuggets on Sunday.

“I try to get better and better each game,” Robinson said. “That is my mentality each day. When I got here, I said I wanted to win and that I also wanted to lead the summer league in assists. I’ve been working on things like keeping my dribble alive longer.”

When the initial Race to the MVP came out, it only included games played through July 11. Robinson, who had only played two games to that point, was not included on that list.

He jumped up to fifth in the rankings when the updated version of the R2MVP came out just two days later. That is what scoring 44 points and handing out 17 assists in two games will do for you.

New York’s two big draft-night pickups, Wilson Chandler and Demetris Nichols, also played very well, and Renaldo Balkman was a defense and rebounding terror.

“All of the rookies are doing good and we are sharing the ball and playing as a team," said Robinson while pointing at Balkman. "Balkman is an energy guy. Look at him. He doesn’t look like a basketball player. Then the game starts and he just turns it on. He is long and real active on the ball. He gives weakside help and doesn’t like to let anybody score on him. He does a lot for the team.”

Hey Nate, so do you.

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    Race to the MVP - Final Player Rankings
    1. Nate Robinson, Knicks
    Robinson was officially awarded with the most outstanding player trophy following New York's win over the Nuggets today. In that game, he had 24 points, five rebounds and two assists. Another typical day at the office.

    2. Louis Williams, Sixers
    Once he reduces his turnovers, Williams is guaranteed to see a spike in his minutes during the regular season. He is a combo guard that is capable of filling many needs.

    3. Aaron Brooks, Rockets
    He was the No. 1 and No. 2 options for the Rockets the entire summer league and played with the poise of a veteran, not a rookie.

    4. Rodney Stuckey, Pistons
    Remember back in the day when the Pistons use to rock three guards - Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Vinnie Johnson? Stuckey, Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups will be the 2007 version of that.

    5. Marco Belinelli, Warriors
    His summer league debut, where he scored 37 points, was his signature moment. Although he never came close to matching that performance in his other three games, he gave Warriors fans many a reason to be happy with his selection.

    6. Jose Barea, Mavericks
    This tournament was dominated by guards. Barea, who like Robinson guided his team to an undefeated record, definitely saw his stock rise.

    7. Craig Smith, Wolves
    Smith was a monster all week in the paint. His development, along with the addition of Corey Brewer, could be the kind of help Kevin Garnett needs.

    8. Al Thornton, Clippers
    With the exception of Aaron Brooks, Thornton was probably the best all-around rookie at summer league. The Clippers were fortunate to get him where they did in the draft.

    9. Rudy Gay, Grizzlies
    He teamed with Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley to make the Grizzlies the most entertaining team of the summer league. Everybody knows he can score points. Now Memphis needs him to do the other things on the stat sheet that are necessary for them to win games.

    10. Javaris Crittenton, Lakers
    It is way too early to hand him the Lakers' starting point guard position. Phil Jackson probably won't do that until training camp.

    Close But No Cigar
    11. Jason Maxiell (Pistons)
    12. Alando Tucker (Suns)
    13. Shannon Brown (Cavaliers)
    14. Jelani McCoy (Nuggets)
    15. Kyle Lowry (Grizzlies)
    16. Spencer Hawes (Kings)
    17. Kevin Durant (Sonics)
    18. Von Wafer (Nuggets)
    19. D.J. Strawberry (Suns)
    20. Randy Foye (Wolves)

    Running the Floor

    Here are my first and second team selections from the NBA Summer League presented by adidas.

    First Team
    G - Nate Robinson, Knicks
    G - Louis Williams, Sixers
    G - Aaron Brooks, Rockets
    F - Al Thornton, Clippers
    F - Craig Smith, Wolves

    Second Team
    G - Rodney Stuckey, Pistons
    G - Marco Belinelli, Warriors
    G - J.J. Barea, Mavericks
    F - Rudy Gay, Grizzlies
    F - Jason Maxiell, Pistons