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Clipped Wing: Glenn Robinson III’s refined shooting must provide depth at small forward position

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The Pacers need space, and C.J. Miles is day-to-day with knee soreness. Enter: Glenn Robinson III.

NBA: Preseason-Indiana Pacers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

With C.J. Miles going from sitting out the first preseason game against the Bulls for precautionary reasons due to a sore knee to not being “allowed to do” basketball activities, it is beginning to look more and more like Glenn Robinson III will be called upon to deliver as the backup wing’s lone designated survivor.

Such a proposition would have been decidedly more iffy a little more than a year ago when the 22-year-old’s spotty defensive awareness made him somewhat of a liability within the team’s more deliberate playing style. Now, with speed and reads being prioritized over play calling, Robinson III’s high-flying athleticism and ability to move without the basketball are being better maximized.

To make up the difference, the lengthy wing is likely relying on his commitment to one particular area of his offseason training regimen.

“My shooting,” Robinson III replied when asked on Media Day what he worked on over the summer. “I’ve been in the gym with my trainer Joey Burton, he’s a local Indy guy. I’ve been in the gym twice a day, every day.”

The early returns are promising. He’s already made over a third of the total three-pointers in preseason play that he made in 45 games last season. Exhibition games lending themselves to wonky rotations and lackadaisical defense has certainly helped boost his absurd 75 percent accuracy rate, but the modifications he made to his shooting stroke have also had a hand.

“I didn’t change it,” Robinson III said of his shot. “I’ve worked on a couple just little minor tweaks, mechanics: Not turning my shoulders as much when I shoot, trying to align my body straight, always facing the rim. I think I’ve been working on that, and that definitely helps.”

So it seems. Granted, the 22-year-old knocked down better than 35 percent of his three-point attempts last season, but he had a come-and-go tendency to tilt his lower body at an angle as he released the ball, which sometimes led to bad results. Such was the case on this particular attempt against the Denver Nuggets when he missed far right of the rim:

Compare that to this preseason attempt against the Chicago Bulls, wherein he goes straight up and straight down.

More encouraging still is the video he posted about a month ago of a move he’s been practicing. Albeit, this is an empty gym, but him draining a step back jumper is something that was rarely seen last season, as only two of his 37 total three-point attempts came off the dribble as opposed to the catch.

Given his injury history, revisiting using C.J. Miles at power forward, even if his knee soreness is completely unrelated, hardly seems worth risking one of few off-ball threats on the roster. Still, if the streaky shooter does end up being sidelined for the season opener, then Glenn Robinson III’s fit within the team’s new system and the work he put in to refine his shot over the offseason has the potential to make weathering the 11-year veteran’s inevitable absences and potential dry spells less dicey.

"It's the nature of the game," Paul George told Pacers.com’s Mark Montieth. "Guys go down, guys get hurt. Glenn's been playing phenomenal. He's going to fill that role until C.J. gets back, then that decision becomes Nate's."

Without much in the way of emergency wing depth for the Pacers to fall back on, the more difficult Glenn Robinson III makes Nate McMillan’s job the better.