When the Indianapolis Star's Gregg Doyel wasn't bugging Colts' coach Chuck Pagano on Friday, he was supplying a healthy dose of hope for Pacers' fans through a column about how and why Glenn Robinson III ended up with Pacers this season.
After hearing about the three-year deal (for a little over $1 mil/per year), it was assumed the Pacers were taking a flyer on a young, skilled wing player with room to grow into an NBA contributor. But after reading Larry Bird's thoughts on the topic in Doyel's column, it appears the Pacers prez has big plans for Big Dog's oldest son.
"I've been (trying to acquire) him for a year," Bird says.
Since the preseason opener last season, when the Minnesota Timberwolves came to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers won 103-90, and Bird noticed in Glenn Robinson - the 40th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft - absurd athletic ability and untapped potential. In 12 minutes Robinson had six points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal. It was just a preseason game, but talent is talent. And in the son of former Purdue star Glenn Robinson, Bird saw it.
The column (please read it all) goes onto explain how Bird hasn't always hit on his personnel moves with the Pacers, but he does have a good track record with young, unproven players (namely Lance Stephenson and Paul George) that need some development. Bird has been more hands on with Robinson since signing him, much the same way he worked to help Stephenson on the court.
Robinson fits the mold of the type of player Bird likes on the roster. He's long and willing to play defense. At 6'7 with a 6'10 wingspan, the biggest barrier for Robinson may be his perimeter shooting proficiency. In a limited number of games last season, Robinson shot around 30 percent from behind the arc. But knowing that being a "three-and-D" guy is key to getting on the court, Robinson has been working on that shot (with Bird's preferred shooting coach, Hal Wissel).
So could the Pacers find lightening in a bottle with Robinson and actually get some production out of the young fella. Robinson is only 21 years old as he begins his second NBA year. When he signed, the general consensus was that Robinson would be a roster filler who would occasionally suit up among the 12 active Pacers while also spending some time on the farm in Fort Wayne to enjoy some game minutes.
Frank Vogel plans to utilize a 10-man rotation which could fluctuate depending on the opponent and whether the Pacers are playing big or small. Robinson's best chance to crack the rotation would be among a small lineup. Assuming Rodney Stuckey would play some backup minutes at both back court positions. If Joe Young isn't ready for minutes at point guard, Robinson could slide into some backup shooting guard minutes.
Chase Budinger will likely take up most of the other backup wing minutes with Solomon Hill either being the odd man out or getting some minutes at the four in a small-ball approach. If that's the case, Robinson may be able to grab some occasional minutes at the three.
So, when you break down the roster, it really isn't that far fetched to see where Robinson may get an opportunity to play if he earns it in camp. If he can then take advantage of the opportunity then the Pacers may indeed have a diamond in the rough and another young piece to brighten up the future. But that scenario also portends additional growing pains for a Pacers team in transition this season.