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Indiana Pacers 2015-16 Player Review: Glenn Robinson III is a work in progress

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The Mad Ants serve as Indiana's training ground for developing talent. So why didn't the Pacers send Glenn Robinson III there more often?

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves waived him, and the Philadelphia 76ers declined to make him a qualifying offer, but Larry Bird saw something in Glenn Robinson III he felt was worth giving a shot in free agency.

"He's very impressive to me," Bird told the Indy Star's Gregg Doyel. "He's long, strong and big."

Adding Robinson III's youth and physical attributes to a roster constructed with the intent to play faster and smaller was a low risk potentially high reward move, but expecting a prospect in need of development to learn on the job, after having been let go by his two former employers, arguably did a disservice both to him and the team.

The month of January, in which the 22-year-old was given the opportunity to earn minutes as the backup small forward and was later inserted into the starting lineup in George's Hill's absence, was particularly perplexing, given that his promotion came at the expense of Solomon Hill, who had started 78 games the prior season. Whether opting for Robinson III was intended more to test his own level of readiness or motivate those he leapfrogged remains to be seen, but the short-lived experiment lengthened the time it took for head coach Frank Vogel to discover exactly what is was he had in Hill's versatility.

Once Hill returned to being a permanent fixture in the rotation following the team's embarrassing loss to the Orlando Magic, the Pacers were 15.9 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor compared to on the bench.

How did Glenn Robinson III impress:

Though the sophomore player sometimes struggled to pick his spots on offense and was prone to streaky shooting, his ability to move without the basketball provided a brief glimpse into what he could be in a larger role. The Third demonstrated a knack for finding openings off cuts and his quickness allowed him to run in front of the break in transition, making for several highlight worthy finishes at the rim.

In 64 games, C.J. Miles completed 17 dunks. Compare that to Robinson III, who put down 15 in nearly 20 fewer appearances. Should head coach Nate McMillan choose to implement a more free flowing offense, the 22-year-old's energy and athleticism could be a real asset, especially if his above 40 percent accuracy rate on catch-and-shoot three-pointers can hold over a larger sample size.

How did Glenn Robinson III disappoint:

The Third likely will not have much of an opportunity to show what he can do for the Pacers on offense unless he can improve his sketchy play on the other end of the floor.

For example, take a look at this defensive possession against the Phoenix Suns. Robinson III appears either unsure of himself or frozen in time as he fails to rotate over to the soon-to-be dunking Markieff Morris.

A few possessions later, there is a miscommunication between himself and C.J. Miles as he gets caught behind the ball screen and then is too slow to recover to Morris as he rolls to the rim.

He also struggled to hold his ground against larger wings on the block. Here, Robinson III's physicality is no match for the craftiness and strength of Danilo Gallinari.

And then there were also occasion where he, not unlike many young players, just appeared completely lost. In his defense, there is a lot that is wrong with this particular defensive possession against the Charlotte Hornets, but leaving Nicolas Batum unattended behind the arc to converge on Frank Kaminsky in the paint might be the most egregious error committed.

As much as he was sometimes too fast for the game on offense, the game was mostly too fast for him on defense.

What's next for Glenn Robinson III?

With Chase Budinger long gone and Solomon Hill likely on the way out (barring him taking a significant pay cut), opportunity at the wing could be there for Glenn Robinson III's taking next season. Which is why not having him split more time between Indy and Fort Wayne, where he could have increased his preparedness for what comes next, was a missed opportunity. Instead, Robinson III is still a work in progress whose growth was temporarily stunted by his team's decision to have him stay where the minutes weren't.

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