Meet Glenn Robinson III

Meet the newest Detroit Piston, former Michigan standout Glenn Robinson III.

The Detroit Pistons and former University of Michigan star Glenn Robinson III have agreed, in principle, to a 2 year, $8.3 million deal with a team option for the second year.

Who is Glenn Robinson?

Glenn Robinson III is a 24-year-old, 6-foot 6-inch wing hailing from Gary Indiana. Robinson is the son of former Purdue and NBA standout Glenn Robinson Jr. Robinson was born prematurely to a Purdue freshman and spent his first two months in an incubator. Robinson started playing basketball at a very young age and spent his entire childhood in Indiana. Robinson was a high school standout before committing to the University of Michigan for his college ball.

Robinson spent two seasons at Michigan, which still stand as the winningest two-year stretch in school history with 59 wins. Robinson was never the focal point of the team but was a rock-solid contributor on both ends of the ball, praised for his versatility.

After two successful years at Michigan, Robinson declared for the NBA draft and was taken by the Timberwolves with the 40th overall pick, he spent only a short time in Minnesota before being waived in March. After being waived he was claimed by the Philadephia 76ers at the height of the process but failed to make an impression leading the Sixers to not make a qualifying offer.

That summer Robinson signed a three year deal with his hometown Indiana Pacers and has spent the last three seasons there. Robinson was a regular rotation piece for most of his time in Indiana, but really came into his own two years ago where he appeared in 69 games while playing 20.7 minutes per game. Last season Robinson was injured in a pre-season scrimmage and missed the majority of the season, he did return towards the end of February but was only used as a back-end rotation piece.

The Good

The Pistons biggest hole heading into the offseason was on the wing, Robinson joins both of the Pistons draft picks to become the 3rd wing player added. As for his actual game, there are questions about the sample size, but he has shown the same versatile and effective game that made him so valuable at the University of Michigan.

First off, Robinson is a very effective off-ball player. He can be a bit trigger shy and his shot takes a moment to load up but he is fairly proven as a long-distance shooter as a 38.1% three-point shooter. Combined with this, Robinson is a smart cutter with great hops. He can catch easily catch a pass some distance from the hoop and go up and finish without taking a dribble and has shot over 60% at the hoop in his career. If you watch his (admittedly sparse) highlights you will find almost exclusively spot-up threes and cuts for layups and dunks.

Defensively Robinson is far from a stopper, but he is long, strong, and generally on the scheme. He has the versatility to defend guards or wings and theoretically some power forwards. He is also a good rebounder for his position and has a good timing on jumps to grab heavily contested rebounds, which combines with his significant jumping abilities to allow him to go up with much taller players.

Robinson also has some basic shot creation ability, he is primarily an off-ball player but he has more comfort with the ball in his hands than a lot of spot-up types do.

Perhaps the best thing for Robinson is that he is 24 and still has the potential to be much better than he has been. Many were looking to him as potentially having a breakout year last year before he got hurt, and his pedigree suggests that he has the tools to become more than just a complimentary player.

Beyond all of that, is that the contract is a good one for the Pistons. They will be able to dodge the tax this season and the team option for the second year gives them control. So much of Robinson's value is in the potential that if he makes good on it he could be highly valuable for his price, but if the potential never comes to anything the Pistons can easily cut ties after a season with minimal harm done.

The Bad

Robinson is pretty good at a lot of things but not great at anything. His shooting is reliable but his release is too slow to really be a sniper, he is sometimes a little slow defensively and at times the wrong sort of a tweener. The biggest downside to Robinson though is the unknown. Robinson will arrive in Detroit with the potential to be a really effective secondary player, many around the league think he could even be a solid starter, but most of that is theoretical. Last season Andre Drummond logged more minutes than Robinson has in his entire career, the season two years ago is the only chunk that is really worth much as far as sample size and that is one season as a significant bench piece where he scored 6.1 points per game.

Beyond his actual game is his positional needs. Robinson will likely spend most of his time at small forward in Detroit, and can theoretically play some power forward, but despite what basketball reference may tell you, he has spent a ton of his playing career at shooting guard. That alone is not really a cause for concern, positional versatility is never a bad thing, but it joins in with everything else about his game where the Pistons are counting on theoretical to be true. If Robinson proves to be more of a guard than a forward then he suddenly is a hugely redundant player on the roster. As of now, Bullock, Kennard, Galloway, and Thomas are on the roster and fit the mold of shooty wing types. If Robinson isn't able to effectively cash in on what makes him different from them, the size to play forward spots without submarining the defense, he may not have a spot in the rotation.

The upshot for rest of the roster

This signing is what sealed Anthony Tolliver's fate of being out in Detroit, the Pistons simply didn't have money to pay him. Which is too bad, but was very likely going to be the case regardless. It is possible the Pistons manage to shed some salary in a trade and make one more minor signing in addition to the Jose Calderon move, but Robinson is almost certainly the only significant change to the roster.

With the current roster, Robinson joins Stanley Johnson as the only proper small forwards on the roster, but where he will sit on the depth chart will depend heavily on how the new regime see's Reggie Bullock. In theory, Johnson and Robinson will battle for minutes at small forward all season, I'd guess Johnson will have the starting job early but if he shoots poorly Robinson could steal it. Given how many shooting guards the Pistons have on the roster, however, there is likely to be a large amount of 3 guard lineups used, featuring a point guard and Bullock with one of the shooting guards. This means that one of Johnson or Robinson is either going to have to stretch themselves to win minutes at the 4 spot or be pushed to very low minutes.

Best Case Scenario

The promise Robinson showed in the past is paid in and he is instantly a highly effective two-way player and wins a starting spot. He provides the Pistons with a proper two-way wing to effectively shore up the 5th spot in the starting lineup. Robinson ends up staying long-term with the Pistons and is a ends up becoming something akin to Trevor Ariza and is an integral piece to a Pistons championship.

Worst Case Scenario

The promise he showed in the past never really comes to anything. Instead of being a swiss army knife he is just not very good at anything and falls out of the rotation quickly before the Pistons choose to not retain him the next season and he falls out of the NBA. Meanwhile, Anthony Tolliver goes and thrives in Minnesota for good measure while the Pistons backup power forwards fail to impress.

The Verdict

If this does indeed result in the loss of Tolliver there is the real risk here. Without Tolliver both Henry Ellenson and Jon Leuer will have a great deal of pressure on them, the biggest worry is that the Pistons may well be best off playing a ton of three-guard lineups (and essentially using Bullock as a full-time small forward) which would potentially put Robinson out of the rotation and unneeded. On the other hand, Robinson is a proper small forward who can play on both ends of the floor, he also should give important insurance for the Pistons should both Bullock and Johnson get too expensive for the next offseason.

There is a real risk here, as much as there can be for such a minor signing at least. But Robinson has a ton of potential and should fill the biggest hole that the Pistons had, which means that despite there being a risk, it is a risk worth taking. Robinson will likely be a really solid rotation player for the Pistons and there wouldn't be a shock if he ends up starting at some point next season.

What do you think? Can he win a rotation spot? Is he worth the contract?

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