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Player Review: Glenn Robinson III is still in search of his steady chance

On the cruel timing of the high-flying wing’s ankle injury and why his involvement as a perimeter playmaker is about more than niceness.

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Original image via Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Glenn Robinson III has been preparing for uncertain opportunity for the entirety of his young career. He never logged more than twelve minutes in any of the 25 games he played for the team that drafted him before they opted to let him go in favor of creating a roster spot for Justin Hamilton. At his next stop, it only took the Sixers 10 games to decide to move on. After Larry Bird took a shine to him, he sparingly competed for scraps of playing time with Chase Budinger and Solomon Hill. The following summer, he finished as one of the Orlando Pro Summer League’s Top Ten performers, but it wasn’t enough to firmly guarantee him a spot in the rotation ahead of the start of the season.

However, when Paul George essentially forced himself off the team and C.J. Miles was signed-and-traded, it finally seemed like the moment to stake his claim to that which he had waited had arrived.

Instead, he went down with an ankle injury at training camp that required surgery and resulted in him needing to shake off months of rust to resemble the player he was as opposed to blossoming into the player he had put in the work to become.

How did Glenn Robinson III impress?

After missing 15 of his first 20 shots from three, he sank nine of his last 14 during his only stretch of three consecutive games wherein he tallied 20 or more touches.

Over those contests to close the season, he averaged 12.7 points on 54 percent shooting to go with 3.7 rebounds.

On the whole, however, he tallied fewer touches in fewer minutes to go with a lower usage rate, which meant the athletic wing with superb leaping ability would sometimes be left to fade into the background unless he leaned on his ability to move without the ball.

In that regard, Robinson III once again displayed promising instincts as a cutter.

Whenever his defender got caught flatfooted while staring at the ball, the 24-year-old would make a break for the rim along the baseline and Lance would find him.

Unfortunately, both of these possessions resulted in misses because the screener put his man in position to contest the shot by continuing to roll toward the basket.

More fun and less congested, though, were the occasions when he would curl tightly around the screen near the elbow for the alley-oop, but the Pacers only managed to have him use 10 possessions coming off screens in 23 games.

How did Glenn Robinson III disappoint?

He didn’t have a defender within 0-2 feet (very tight) or even 2-4 feet (tight) on any of the first 20 threes he launched while he was struggling to get his legs back under him and find consistency with his shot, so there wasn’t much of an opportunity for him to attack closeouts or work on go-to ball skills.

Making matters worse, the high-flyer also didn’t get to work on becoming better adept at creating separation, drawing contact, or reading high middle ball screens because the Pacers rarely put him in position to be the pick-and-roll ball-handler.

On the 10 paltry possessions he used on that particular play type, he went 1-of-10 from the field and never made it to the line.

As such, especially given that he only tallied 20 or more touches in five games this season, Robinson ended up attempting a career-low 18.8 percent of his field goals within three feet of the basket while also posting a career-low free throw rate (.129).

“To be on the perimeter you have to be a playmaker,” Kevin Pritchard told reporters with regard to Robinson III on media day. “He’s got to make the right plays. He’s athletic, obviously, but he’s got to use that athleticism all the time and he’s got to be determined every single game.

“He’s got to impose his will because sometimes you can be too nice of guy. Glenn is just kind of a nice guy, but I think he’s really determined to show he can exist in this league.”

He showed flashes of a meaner streak when he logged 40 minutes in the season finale against the Hornets, like when he penetrated the lane and turned over his left shoulder to avoid the double-team and finished by hitting a shot off the glass over Batum.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to steadily exhibit nastiness as a playmaker when active inclusion in the offense is sporadic at best.

What’s next for Glenn Robinson III?

Unrestricted free agency in a financially crunched market, wherein teams in need of wing depth will have to determine the extent to which the height of his potential ceiling was impacted by lingering effects from his injury as well as limited role.

Wherever he signs, Glenn Robinson III is set to enter his fifth season still in search of his steady chance.

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