Glenn Robinson III Making a Defensive Impact

Since his return, Glenn Robinson III has provided a defensive boost for the Pacers.

After missing the first 58 games this season, Glenn Robinson III made his season debut on February 23 against the Atlanta Hawks. In a convincing win for the Pacers, Robinson went 2-for-6 from the field, finishing with 4 points in 18 minutes of action. Since then, Robinson has dressed and played in all but one game.

In 19 games, Robinson has provided the Pacers with little to nothing on the offensive end -- her's averaging 2.9 points per game while shooting 37 percent from the floor and 26 percent from deep in 13 minutes of action. These numbers are a far cry from his production last season, where he averaged 6.7 points and shot 46 percent from the floor and 39 percent from deep while playing a vital role in the Pacers' late playoff push. In fact, since his return, the Pacers are 1.1 points worse per 100 possessions offensively with Robinson on the floor compared to when he’s off the floor. This might not seem like much or a big deal, but when your whole offense is reliant on Oladipo creating offense off a pick-n-roll, you need players to provide spacing and knock down open shots. So far, Robinson has failed to do so.

Luckily for Pacers, Robinson has made up for his offensive deficiencies on the defensive end. Since returning from injury, the Pacers have a 99 defensive rating when Robinson is on the floor, compared to 104.5 when he is on the bench. That 5.5 difference in defensive rating is what separates the Pacers from having the best defense in the league to having a borderline top ten defense. So how is Robinson making this much of an impact on the defensive end?

Well, let’s start with his physical stature. Standing at six-foot-six and with a six-foot-nine wingspan, Robinson has always had the physical tools to be an impactful wing defender in this league. Combine that with his athleticism (he did win the 2017 dunk contest) and you have the makings of a quality defender. Because of this, Robinson has the ability to impact the game defensively in ways that other wings on the Pacers roster can’t.

Pickpocketing

With all the attention going to Victor Oladipo and Thaddeus Young in the steals department, it’s easy to forget about Robinson. But make no mistakes about it, Robinson is no slouch when it comes to swiping the ball away from opposing teams. Robinson is tied for third on the team in steal percentage (2.3 %) with Darren Collison and is averaging 1.6 steals per 36 minutes, which is the fourth best on the team. Robinson uses his six-foot-nine wingspan to make opposing ball handlers' lives hell when they drive; he excels at poking the ball free when giving help defense in these situations.

The clip below demonstrates Robinson’s canning ability to poke the ball loose. Mirotic drives to the basket after getting a step on Booker by using a simple jab step. As the strong side help defender, Robinson gets involved in the play and is able to strip Mirotic, which starts a fastbreak opportunity.

Defending Shooters

One thing that the Pacers have struggled with this season is defending spot-ups. They are giving up 103.4 points per 100 possessions on spot-up, which puts them at 23rd in the league. This is an issue when 21.6 percent of your defensive effort (the highest of any play type) is guarding spot-ups. To put this into context, only three other teams spend more time defending spot-ups than the Pacers, and only one of them, the Bulls, allows more points per 100 possessions (104.9).

Luckily for the Pacers, Robinson is one of the better players in the league at defending spot-ups -- he is allowing only 84.6 points per 100 possession. That is better than some of the best defenders in the league, such as Danny Green, Andre Roberson, and Draymond Green just to name a few. In catch-and-shoot situations, Robinson's opponents are only shooting 29.4 percent and are scoring only 88.2 points per 100 possessions. Using his length and athleticism, Robinson is able to do enough to disrupt and affect the opponent’s shot. For evidence of the “Robinson Affect,” look no further than the Pacers' 3pt defense when Robinson is on and off the floor. With him on the floor, the Pacers hold opponents to 32.6 percent from deep, compared to 34.8 percent when he’s off.

Conclusion

Though offensively there is a lot left to be desired, Robinson has provided the Pacers with a much needed defensive boost since his return. His ability to force turnovers and defend spot-ups has helped propel the Pacers in the playoff standings, despite their predictable offense. Look for Nate McMillan to include Robinson in his defensive-minded lineups come postseason time.

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