When the Detroit Pistons signed Glenn Robinson III on July 1, the move did not come with a whole lot of talk. For one, it was a pretty big day in free agency with it being the first day and so many teams making more notable signings than a two-year, $8.3 million deal for a wing coming off a season where he did not play much due to injury.
The signing of Robinson III was an essential move for the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were looking at a depth chart that was lacking depth on the wings. They drafted a couple shooting guards in the second round of the draft in Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown Jr, but both players are likely not to be relied on much due to the Pistons going all in on making the playoffs.
The only players with any notable experience on the wings for the Pistons coming into free agency were Luke Kennard, Reggie Bullock, Stanley Johnson, and Langston Galloway. Glenn Robinson III represented a young player with room to grow who came at a relatively cheap price tag. Both of those things are important for a team as cash-strapped like the Detroit Pistons. More importantly, Glenn has shown that he can play during his three seasons with the Indiana Pacers.
There is no way to know what kind of role the Pistons have planned for Robinson III, but the fact that the new front office, led by Ed Stefanski, targeted him early in free agency shows that they value him as a player pretty highly.
One key thing that Robinson III has going for him is the fact that the Pistons only have one natural small forward on their roster in Stanley Johnson. Johnson has been pretty disappointing thus far in his career as he heads into his fourth season in the league, so Robinson does not have the toughest competition at his position.
This is likely a big part of why Robinson chose to sign with the Pistons so early in free agency. The fact that he also has a connection to the state of Michigan because he played his college ball at the University of Michigan also probably played a role.
Now that we have gone through how Glenn got to the Pistons, let’s take a look at what we can expect out of the young swingman in this upcoming season.
Glenn Robinson III has an ideal skill set for the small forward position as the Pistons roster is currently constructed. He is a 38 percent three-point shooter for his career with increasing percentages each season he has been in the league.
More importantly is his percentage on corner perimeter jumpers, which he will get a lot of as a small forward in the Pistons offense. He shot a ridiculous 62.5 percent on corner 3s last season in 23 games. He also shot 44 percent the season before, so it is not just small sample size noise.
With the Pistons emphasizing an offense that features a lot of drive-and-kick and pick-and-roll, it is vital to have knockdown shooters on the wings. This is a huge reason why the Pistons targeted Robinson so early in free agency. He is not only lethal from the corners but very solid on catch-and-shoot three-pointers in general. He shot 42.4 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers last season.
Whether Robinson starts or comes off the bench, his skill set on offense will be very useful, and that will likely lead to him having a pretty significant role for the Detroit Pistons next season. New coach Dwane Casey wants to emphasize three-point shooting which means that he is going to be looking for players that can shoot the ball well.
I have talked a lot about Robinson III’s outside shooting, and that is because that is mostly what he does. He ventures inside the arc, but last season he did not venture much into the paint. It could be because of the ankle injury that plagued him much of last season, but only 18.8 percent of his shots came from within 0-3 feet of the basket.
That is less than the 22.1 percent he took the season before and even less than the 33.1 percent he shot the season before that. He did shoot his highest percentage of shots from 3-10 feet from the basket for his career last season, which could point to him having some difficulty getting all the way to the basket due to his injury.
Robinson III shot 60 percent of his shots from two-point range last season, which was a career low for him. There is nothing wrong with that because that is likely going to be similar to his percentage for this season. I expect Robinson to shoot a lot of catch-and-shoot 3s and only venture inside for opportunistic cuts due to the presence of paint dwelling big men Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin.
Glenn is also a solid defender who can defend any position two through four. He isn’t going to lock anybody down, and likely won’t be subbed in for the sole purpose of shutting down an opposing player, that role will likely be reserved for Stanley Johnson.
However, Robinson can get switched around the perimeter on defense without hurting your team defense, and that is very important. You probably don’t want to give him too many minutes at the four, but I think he could play it in a pinch. He can also play the two or the three, which opens up a lot of different lineup options as well as the ability to switch a lot defensively.
This thread on Twitter from one of our editors Grant Afseth is a great look into what Glenn Robinson III brings to the table.
Robinson III has an opportunity in Detroit to grow into a substantial ‘3-and-D’ threat. He likely isn’t destined for superstardom, but he is still young at only 24 and hasn’t really gotten the most opportunities for playing time in his young career.
Expecting him to develop into some big-time scorer is setting yourself up for disappointment. Robinson is likely a 10-12 point per game scorer at his absolute peak who will shoot a solid percentage from the perimeter and play some pretty good defense. Within the structure of the Pistons roster that is an ideal fifth starter.
The Detroit Pistons offer him an opportunity to compete for a starting job that is still wide open due to the disappointing start to Stanley Johnson’s career thus far. If he focuses on the things that he does well that I mentioned above and Stanley Johnson continues to struggle to shoot the ball, Glenn could be exactly what the Pistons need to complement the “big three” in their starting lineup.
If Stanley Johnson does come to camp ready to play with the necessary improvements made to his game, he will likely be the starter. There will still be a massive opportunity for Glenn Robinson III off the bench with the Pistons lack of options at the small forward position.