2018-19 Pistons Profile: Glenn Robinson III
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After failing to make the playoffs last season, Pistons owner Tom Gores made the call to change course. Ed Stefanski was hired to run the front office and his first big move was to hire Dwane Casey, reigning NBA Coach of the Year. The roster is set, a new coaching staff and front office is in place and training camp is around the corner. In the days leading up to its opening we’ll look at each player on the roster and assess how he fits into the puzzle for the 2018-19 season. Today: Glenn Robinsin III. Wednesday: Bruce Brown
GLENN ROBINSON III
ID card: 24 years old, entering 5th season, 6-foot-7 small forward
Last year in review: Robinson suffered a severe ankle sprain involving torn ligaments in Indiana’s final preseason game last October. The injury, not unlike that suffered by Reggie Jackson in late December that forced him to miss nearly half the season, required surgery and caused Robinson to miss the first 58 games. Robinson was expected to be a key reserve for the Pacers, a role he first filled in 2016-17, and he was thrust back into the rotation immediately upon his return at the All-Star break. The Pacers went 15-9 with Robinson back in the lineup, finishing strong, and Indiana pushed eventual Eastern Conference champion Cleveland to seven games in the first round. In 15 minutes a game, Robinson averaged 4.1 points and 1.6 rebounds a game while shooting 41 percent from the 3-point arc. Robinson took a career-high 40 percent of his shot attempts from the arc last season and the 41 percent accuracy was a career high.
Career at a glance: Robinson was one of the most acclaimed recruits of the John Beilein era at Michigan, spending two years with the Wolverines and starting as a freshman in the 2013 NCAA title game. Robinson’s calling card as a recruit and college player was his athleticism, but he struggled to gain proficiency as a rebounder, shooter and playmaker. After averaging 13.1 points and 4.4 rebounds as a sophomore, Robinson entered the NBA draft and was taken 40th overall by Minnesota. Robinson earned a roster spot but was waived in March of his rookie season, picked up by Philadelphia in the depths of its rebuilding process. He signed with Indiana in July 2015 but played sparingly in 2015-16 before a breakthrough in 2016-17 when Robinson made 27 starts and averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 21 minutes a game while improving to 39 percent from the 3-point arc.
Anticipated role: Robinson largely split his time between shooting guard and small forward with Indiana, but he’s more likely to spend the bulk of his minutes at small forward with the Pistons. Ed Stefanski, senior adviser to owner Tom Gores and the person who led the front office in free agency where Robinson was the primary target, raised the possibility of Robinson playing some minutes at power forward, as well, an option for the increasing instances of teams playing smaller. Only Robinson and Stanley Johnson are natural small forwards, though first-year coach Dwane Casey could use Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard there, as well. While Johnson is the front-runner to start at small forward given his defensive prowess and strength, Robinson’s greater 3-point presence to complement the Andre Drummond-Blake Griffin frontcourt makes him a threat to win the job or, at minimum, a prominent role.
It will be a good season if...: Robinson continues his evolution as an above-average 3-point shooter, versatile defender and improved rebounder – the arc he was on before last season’s injury-abbreviated stint. The organizational hunch is that the Pistons are getting Robinson at the right time of his career and giving him the greatest opportunity he’s had since coming to the NBA. Casey’s emphasis on creating more 3-point shots figures to play to Robinson’s strengths. If Robinson comes off the bench, as anticipated, his speed in transition should mesh well with Ish Smith’s pace-pushing instincts. Robinson would also seem to be a complementary fit with Luke Kennard on the wings, allowing Kennard to take the less challenging defensive matchup and focus his energies on being a focal point of the bench unit’s half-court offense.