Ending up the dog days of summer, DBB is rolling out a series of players that our writers are optimistic about this coming season - even perhaps irrationally optimistic.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve:
A: Been advocating for Glenn Robinson III to start since early July, because
B: He’s shot 47 percent on corner threes in the last two seasons, which is literally half the job description of a Pistons wing, and YET
C: The only other “true” small forward on the roster (Stanley Johnson) cannot be trusted to do that
It’s really just that simple to me. Too many possessions last year ended in this manner:
Or like so:
...did Stanley make this?— Lazarus Jackson (@lazchance) August 8, 2018
of course not
GRIII until proven otherwise pic.twitter.com/jL12HOhlhD
Both of Marcus Morris’ feet are paint-adjacent, Stanley has a good a look as you’ll get in the NBA, and misses.
The pièce de résistance:
Jaylen Brown would rather stay home on Reggie Jackson, Jayson Tatum would rather stay home on Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart would rather guard an invisible sixth man in the corner than even pretend to scramble the defense in response to Stanley being WIDE OPEN. Stanley made this one, but the defense isn’t mildly worried about him doing so - and that’s the problem.
Last year, the Pistons were 19th in offensive rating, and 11th in defensive rating. Stan Van Gundy’s offense was not the prettiest in the league, but guys like Ish Smith, Langston Galloway, Stanley Johnson, and James Ennis III could not convert the looks generated for them in half-court sets. Long stretches without scoring doomed the Pistons in games down the stretch against Orlando, Miami, and Denver - games they could have used in their playoff push.
I am not saying Glenn Robinson III is so immensely talented that he will single-handedly propel the Detroit offense to the top of the NBA. I am saying that having a guy with GRIII’s ability to knock down open shots will result in fewer of those energy-sapping lulls, and maybe the 13th-best offense rating instead of the 19th - Marginal, but much-needed improvement.
Take a look at GRIII’s shot chart in his last full season (two years ago):
He’s an average or above-average shooter everywhere on the court except for the wing three - but notice how he took 49 wing threes and 75 corner threes. He’s aware of where he shines, and puts himself in position to do so.
Conversely, here’s Stanley Johnson’s shot chart last season:
It ain’t winter yet, but I’m shivering just LOOKING at all that blue.
When you look at clips of GRIII at his most effective, he’s not doing anything that leaps off the screen - he actually reminds me a lot of Reggie Bullock in that regard, and you know how important Bullock has become to this Pistons team. Having watched
too many of a lot of GRIII’s offensive plays this offseason, the thing that’s striking is how often he runs to the weakside corner and just... waits. The defense gets lulled to sleep, the ball whips around a bit, and it’s three points. He’s just in the right position (or, he works his way into the right position) and makes the shots that have been created for him:
Contrast those with the clips of Stanley at the beginning of this piece: Similar looks, but those points are left on the table, and the Pistons’ offense is worse off for it. What the Pistons need from their starting wings is not necessarily shot creation; hopefully, they get enough of that from Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin. They need play finishers, guys who can make the open shots that are created. I firmly believe that Glenn Robinson can do that, which is why he should start.
Also, when the offense bogs down, it doesn’t hurt that GRIII can do things like this:
That sound you hear is me cackling.
Glenn Robinson III does everything offensively the Pistons needed a wing player to do last year. When it comes to whether or not he should start the season in the starting lineup, I’ll ask you again: Why are we kidding ourselves?