With constant discussion about the one-and-done rule or whether a player should declare on unproven potential, players find themselves with the tough decision to return and develop in college or hope an NBA team believes in them enough to take a chance.
Last summer, Jerome Robinson elected to return for another year at Boston College. His draft stock may be benefiting more from that decision than anyone else entering the draft this year.
At 6-foot-4, the 21-year-old guard possesses elite north-south speed and great shooting ability from deep. However his defensive ability lacks versatility and overall raises serious concerns about his NBA ceiling. Still, he’s in a much better place than he was a year ago.
Robinson’s speed enables him to easily blow by defenders and unlocks a plethora of opportunity. Robinson shows promise as a slasher. Sharp, hard cuts can really force pressure on a defense. His speed provides the ability to separate and gain a quick step advantage. For example, Robinson will find himself in the corner frequently as a catch-and-shoot player. As a result, a big such as Lauri Markkanen or someone the defense may be trying to hide will be placed on him providing the opportunity for a backdoor cut and easy basket.
Overall, Robinson strongly prefers his right hand; however, he can still effectively dribble with both hands. He maintains control of the ball far more than the year prior but continues to dribble on top of himself and struggle with ball security, particularly deep in the paint, and he struggles to get passes off his dribble in the way he dribbles.
His tools with the ball are one-dimensional but already has displayed the ability to contribute as a player who can drive-and-kick. His speed provides separation penetrating. He tends to prefer passing with his right hand could use some work on his accuracy. Driving baseline, he occasionally leaves his feet forcing himself to complete extremely difficult passes with a low probability of success. His dump-off passes generally fail to hit the big in the hands and find shooters outside of their shooting pocket. Additionally, errant no look passes represented a sizable chunk of his turnovers, something basic discipline can solve. This is a skill that can be tightened in the near future.
A passing skill that may take a bit more time than the rest is his touch. His passes lack depth and can be deflected or picked off. Developing this ability is incredibly important at his height. A few of his passes were victims of in-tune and lengthy defenses but this will pose a bigger threat to him in the NBA.
Robinson’s sophomore season he lacked awareness of where he was on the court. He would drive and take off at the free throw line on one drive and take off from underneath the basket the next. Both drives contained a complete lack of control. The clip above is an example of this. The drive against Clemson featured his eyes down, no sense of direction, and an eventual belly flop pass.
A year later, Robinson looks like a completely different player, driving with purpose, with awareness of space, the basket, and his location on the court. The left-handed drive-and-kick against Duke is a great display of what he can provide at the next level. His passing ability has benefitted from his better understanding of spacing on the floor.
His speed going downhill forces teams to foul frequently and he drew 4.8 fouls per 40 (via kenpom.com). Shooting 83 percent last season from the stripe, Robinson capitalizes on his chances from the line,
The game is still a bit fast for Robinson. He struggles when defenders press on him and has gotten in trouble with charges in the past.
In his sophomore season, the wrist snap on his shot snapped to the right and he would fade away instead of shooting straight up. A year later those problems are resolved. With strong shooting mechanics start-to-finish, he shoots effortlessly with a quick release and no wasted motion. His footwork leading into his shots has improved as well. The sophomore to junior year shooting development from 33 percent to 41 percent from deep is no coincidence. Robinson is excellent in catch-and-shoot situations. In fact, it is his greatest strength.
Robinson’s 3-point shot struggled some in transition but repetition with his relatively new mechanics will likely solve most of these problems.
Defensively, he performs well against players who can not pass. I attended the game against Miami in Boston where he effectively stayed with and in front of Lonnie Walker. As a team, Miami drives frequently without much kicking to follow. Likewise, he matched up well against Tyus Battle. However, even by offering him a break from playing 40 minutes every game, Robinson consistently allows the ball handler to drive middle and consume as much space as they please without providing much resistance. Also, he loses his man driving when there is a change in direction or the ball-handler simply stops.
Robinson’s footwork on defense is all over the map and he is regularly out of position, opening up lanes to cut and drive. Depending on the team, they may feel more comfortable developing this aspect of his game and simply evaluate this similar to a player raw on offense that needs to be molded.
His transition defense needs to improve but it is an area Robinson can really contribute as he develops. His speed allows him to close gaps quickly and he can handle most any guard pushing the ball up the floor to, at the very least, stop the ball or eliminate passing lanes.
Robinson struggles navigating screens on and off-ball but something that can improve with the work of a team. His lateral mobility may restrict his ability to effectively maneuver screens. Currently, he just ineffectively attacks screens preventing him from successfully achieving much of anything beyond providing the opponent the desired advantage.
Interestingly, Robinson’s blocks and steals decreased quite a bit this year. While that might sound concerning, it is actually a good thing. He improved as a defender this year as well in large part because of an increased emphasis on discipline. Robinson rarely leaves his feet anymore or reaches for the steal, allowing his fouls committed per 40 to drop to 2.8 from 3.3 the season prior. As he develops, his judgement will increase and a coach like Erik Spoelstra will absolutely utilize Robinson’s ability to shoot the gaps and force turnovers.
Despite being an older player in the draft, Robinson’s drastic improvement is promising for his ceiling and draft appeal. While passing is not a strength for Robinson now, it could be in the near future. The value of shooting in the NBA today is at an all-time high. Basic basketball is drive-and-kick to create an open shot. Robinson’s base offensive ability hits at the core of the fundamentals of basketball. Overall, he has shown huge improvement in every aspect of his game, including defense, much to the delight NBA teams belief to be able to develop him as a prospect in their organization.