It was a long wait to get on the court this season for Glenn Robinson III. The Indiana Pacers were patient with him as he rehabbed from his ankle injury in training camp and he’s quickly become a key contributor off the bench.
While Head Coach Nate McMillan expected to only play him 5-10 minutes in his first game back, Robinson played 18 minutes in his debut, showing he was ready to make plays as the backup small forward.
He joins a team with elite chemistry and you can see he fits right in with how excited the bench was after he scored his first basket of the season.
Robinson worked hard this off-season so that’d he’d be able to be more aggressive with the ball in the half-court. While he’s not getting a ton of opportunities to initiate offense, he’s shown flashes of it when the ball comes his way with little hesitation.
This pick and roll 2-man action with Myles Turner is a thing of beauty. You didn’t see Robinson as the ball handler in the pick and roll very often last year (0.4 possessions per game), but if the results are this good, he’ll get more and more chances.
Robinson’s also had a few nice drives to the rim while playing through contact, including this and-one bucket. Here he takes advantage of the switching Dirk Nowitzki off the hand-off from Domantas Sabonis.
Robinson has picked his spots well for when to attack off the dribble and has been able to execute in the post when defended by a smaller guard.
Scoring in all of these different ways is what makes people excited about the possibility of Robinson growing into a starting caliber small forward in the future. It’s these flashes of potential that make you wonder what he can do with a larger role. His usage percentage of 15.7% is only slighter greater than what it was last season (12.8%).
He’s shown some nice chemistry with Sabonis with his cutting ability. Sabonis is a master of making this type of pass on the backdoor cut, making similar plays to Victor Oladipo often. It’s these type of plays that are exciting for the prospects of heavy bench lineups.
He’s got a nice natural ability to go to the right spot for offensive rebounds. He got one that set up an easy basket for himself and another that set up an eventual dunk for Turner by simply going to the middle of the paint as the shot went up.
Watch how he gets under the rim initially and sees where the shot is likely to bounce off before adjusting his positioning for this one.
His overall statistics don’t look tremendous as he’s shooting only 36.8% overall due to being 0 for 5 from deep in his first four games back, but he’s made 50% of his 2-point shots. His form doesn’t look as fluid and natural when he shoots from distance. He has the tendency at the moment to not jump straight up and down on these shots with one foot landing much farther out than the other.
This was not the case when he shot a very nice 39.2% from deep last year. He seemed to be much more balanced on his way down.
The addition of GR3 should be a boon to the Pacers down the stretch run as they had limited depth at the small forward position before his return. Having him in the fold allows the Pacers to play Bojan Bogdanovic more often at the four position and space teams out and offers another defensive alternative to Bogdanovic at the three if needed.
With his free agency approaching this summer, these last 20 games plus the playoffs will determine how much he ends up getting paid by the Pacers or someone else. These flashes of potential certainly make him intriguing especially when he rediscovers his shooting stroke. The question will be how much more a team believes he can do with more opportunity. For now, the Pacers are happy to have him back playing as they look to solidify their place in the playoff race.