With Robinson Pick At 40, Wolves Continue To Add Athleticism
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Flip Saunders knows it’s a bit cliché, but he’ll take it.
The Wolves selected UCLA freshman Zach LaVine with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and in the second round, Michigan sophomore Glenn Robinson III fell to them at the No. 40 spot.
“I know a lot of people come up here and say we had this guy rated a lot higher, but we had this guy rated a lot higher,” Saunders said about Robinson after the NBA Draft concluded. “He came in during the preseason and a lot of people had him rated as a lottery-type player.”
Robinson III, son of longtime NBA player Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson, figures to play the wing position at the next level. He could transition into a sold two-way player down the road and he, like LaVine, brings a distinct athleticism to the Wolves roster.
Saunders said getting more athletic as a whole was a big focus in the NBA Draft.
“A lot of times athleticism brings energy,” he said. “And many times if you have athletic people that can play and create openings to the basket, it can open things up for other players a lot.”
Robinson fits that mold. He runs the court effectively and can jump out of the gym with a 40-plus-inch vertical. That said he showed a lot of consistency at the college level, as well.
Robinson III started all 76 games in two seasons with the Wolverines and was a key piece in their run to the NCAA championship game two years ago and the Elite Eight run last year. In his two years with Michigan he averaged 12.0 points per game, corralled 4.9 rebounds per game, and even flashed some skill from beyond the arc, hitting at a 31.3 percent clip.
Saunders said he’s confident Robinson III has a place in the NBA and alluded to the fact that he could wind up on the Wolves’ roster next season.
“He’s a first-round talent,” Saunders said. “We’re really excited about him. And coach [John] Beilein does a great job of coaching those guys [at Michigan]. They’re very fundamentally sound, and they’ve got the tendency to improve and translate to our level.”
Saunders said after the first round that there wasn’t enough space on the roster for three second round picks.
He sold picks No. 44 and No. 53 for cash and, in the end, was left with Robinson III.
“At No. 40 we were thinking it would be a guy we would put over in Europe, a guy that might not have the ability to make our team,” Saunders said. “That changed when the draft unfolded with some of the players. And [Robinson III] was definitely one of the players.”