Glenn Robinson III is facing the best opportunity of his NBA career with the Warriors
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Glenn Robinson III, Warriors

Glenn Robinson III is facing the best opportunity of his NBA career with the Warriors

The upcoming NBA season will feature a vastly different look for the Golden State Warriors’ starting lineup around Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

With Klay Thompson sidelined beyond the All-Star break due to a torn ACL, Glenn Robinson III is facing an opportunity to compete for the Warriors’ starting small forward role. He will need to beat out other players like Alfonzo McKinnie and Alec Burks in training camp for the role, but he will have the opportunity to compete for it, nevertheless.

“I think that the versatility that I can provide to this team. The two, three, four. That’s what I’m excited about,” Robinson III said. “Playing against the Warriors for five seasons now, they’re tough to guard. They’re kind of positionless in a sense. I think I’m definitely a candidate for (the starting small forward) spot and that’s what I’m competing for every day.”

Robinson III is coming off a down shooting season with the Detroit Pistons as he went 29 percent from beyond the arc. That came after he shot 38.1 percent from deep for his career and 39.6 percent over his final two seasons with the Indiana Pacers. Where he particularly struggled was from the corners as he shot 25 percent with the Pistons despite producing a 46.2 percent clip entering that season.

There appeared to be a variety of factors that went into Robinson III’s decline in three-point shooting execution. It starts with the fact that the Pistons provided inconsistent playing time and perimeter shooting opportunities. There were only seven total games last season when he attempted over two three-point attempts and he played more than 20 minutes in just five games.

“I think last season was a rough season for me,” he said. “Playing time was up in the air. This being my sixth year, I know how things can go. You got to stay ready and be ready at all times. I just think the value of my opportunities was kind of low. I think when I got on the court towards playoffs, Blake got hurt, I had to step up and make some plays. I have been a great three-point shooter in my career going back since college.”

“I’m very excited for this season being on this team where the reps will be there, open shots will be there. It will be up to me to knock them down. I’m very excited. I think for the first time in my career that I’ve had a team telling me we want you to take three, four (three-pointers per game) plus. Those are shots that we definitely want to take and implement.”

Not having many opportunities throughout games to attempt three-pointers often prevented Robinson III from turning around his performance after missing his first shot or two. To make matters worse, it did not help that the Pistons’ half-court offense was often stagnant and lacked the necessary passing execution to deliver the ball to shooters accurately and in rhythm.

Being able to play for a team that possesses an offensive system like the Warriors that embraces off-ball movement and ball movement should bring the best out of Robinson III. In addition to the system, he has never played with a trio of passing talents like Curry, Green, and D’Angelo Russell. Robinson III envisions that he will be able to fill a role in Golden State’s half-court offense that is similar to how Andre Iguodala was used.

“I’ve proven that I move without the ball. I think that if you had to kind of describe my game a bit for people that don’t me, Andre Iguodala in a sense,” he said. “I’m able to kind of slash and knock down shots and just play with that intensity and excitement that he had. I talked to Andre as well as coming here as well as watching a lot of film and video on him and what he was able to do in his time here.”

“I’m definitely excited to show off that part of my game. I’ve always been a back cutter, slasher, just naturally, and having Draymond direct some of that in the pick-and-roll and obviously Steph, I’m excited to play with those guys and play the right way. I think that the game is simple and easy when the game is played the right way and it will be up to me to knock down open shots.”

The comparison that Robinson III made about his potential role to Iguodala’s previous role with the Warriors lies in off-ball offense. Iguodala received a combined 63 percent of his half-court scoring possessions from last season in the form of spot-up (44.8 percent) and cuts (18.2 percent). As a ‘3-and-D’ wing player with explosive athleticism, spot-up offense and cutting are two areas where Robinson III should thrive.

The athleticism that Robinson III possesses should naturally allow him to make a strong impact in transition situations with the Warriors. The team has already been playing together during practices and the passing ability of Curry has translated to alley-oops and full-court passes ending in easy scoring opportunities for Robinson III.

“I think that now, I’m able to show a little bit more of my game, I’ll be able to show more of my talents,” he said. “Even including a lot of my athleticism in this system will be important. Like I said, playing so far with Steph, we’ve had a couple of lobs and a couple of his crazy full-court passes, so I’m definitely excited about that.”

There are more ways for Robinson III to shine with the Warriors that go beyond the offensive end of the floor. There has been a dependency on Thompson’s elite perimeter defense and they will need someone to fill at least some of that void. The combination of size and athleticism that Robinson III possesses makes him a strong candidate for that role.

“I think the way that I play the game, coming from Michigan, knowing how the league works, and the way that the game is played now, to play both sides of the court is important,” he said. “Especially with Klay being out. So I’m very excited to have that opportunity to step up and guard some elite-level guys.”

What the Warriors will need alongside Curry, Russell, and Green is an athletic wing player that has defensive versatility and can catch-and-shoot effectively and basket cut at a high level. Robinson III appears to have the necessary attributes to fill that niche but being consistent with a larger volume of opportunities in those areas will be essential.

Managing to seize the opportunity with the Warriors would enable Robinson III to climb to a level in his career that he has yet to reach. With his contract having a player option next summer, he could capitalize on a potential increase in his value in free agency.