By trading away Isaiah Thomas, the Wizards did more than just clear out a player who wasn’t helping them win. They were also able to add a former lottery pick in Jerome Robinson.
The Los Angeles Clippers selected Robinson with the 13th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. For some perspective, this was exactly one spot after they took heralded young point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Based on that company, it is clear they thought very highly of Robinson.
As a junior at Boston College, Robinson averaged 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. He shot 48.5-percent from the field and 40.9-percent from three-point range.
This is such a smart move by Tommy Sheppard. It was also exactly the type of overall thinking that WizardsXTRA advocated for during our earlier piece on buy-low options. In fact, Robinson was one of the players we considered for inclusion that the Wizards should look into. Going after reclamation projects that didn’t work out in their first NBA stops that you can get cheaply has been a successful move for this front office over the last year. Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and even Davis Bertans were guys that showed potential with their first teams but not enough to make themselves indispensable.
The Wizards would be very lucky if Robinson turned out to be nearly as productive as the aforementioned guys. Regardless of whether or not he pans out, this was still a great move. It is so hard to hit on draft picks that you need as many opportunities as possible to evaluate talent. Most importantly, they didn’t have to give up much for a chance to do so.
Look past the averages
While Robinson, who is averaging 2.9 points, hasn’t been overwhelmingly productive this season, this is essentially like Tommy Sheppard picking up a free first-round pick. The Wizards were high on him prior to the 2018 draft and now they’ve had a few extra opportunities to see him in action against NBA competition. During that draft, Jay Bilas said, “Jerome Robinson from Boston College might be the most complete offensive player in the draft.”
Clearly, the Wizards also liked what they saw from Robinson. At least enough to take a chance that he develops with more steady minutes in Washington. Despite Bradley Beal seemingly advocating for win-now moves, Sheppard stuck to his guns about using this year to develop and evaluate young guys who could potentially contribute next season when John Wall returns.
“Jerome [Robinson] is a part of our future. He’s under contract. It was 2018 – that draft was interesting. We really liked Jerome [Robinson] a lot, we liked Troy Brown [Jr.] a lot and we liked (Moritz) Wagner a lot – and we ended up with all three of them. As a matter of fact, we also have Isaac Bonga from that draft. 2018 was good for us. We plan on developing Jerome [Robinson] on a very similar track to the other players we received in the last year. We said from day one, this year is about player development. Let’s watch these guys get better and we’re seeing it,” Sheppard said on the acquisition of Jerome Robinson.
We’ve seen flashes
Despite low season averages, there have been just enough flashes to give us some hope that with more steady minutes he can produce. On November 11 against the Hawks, Robinson scored 21 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting in 32 minutes. He also added 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. That was the best game of Robinson’s career, and while it might be a total aberration, he certainly looked the part of a legitimate contributor at the NBA-level.
Robinson also earned a handful of minutes in last year’s playoff match-up against the Golden State Warriors. In the fourth game of that series, Robinson scored 7 points in 11 minutes. In Game 6, he scored 8 points in 14 minutes on 2-for-5 three-point shooting. Those weren’t necessarily crunch-time minutes, but Robinson certainly didn’t appear scared of the moment.
If the Clippers had stayed on their previous trajectory prior to adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, it’s reasonable to assume Robinson would have received more playing time this season. However, on a win-now team this year, there wasn’t exactly ample opportunity to let him go out there and play through mistakes. The Wizards can offer him that opportunity for the rest of this season.
Hopefully, Robinson can take whatever he already learned from Leonard and George and incorporate some added knowledge from Bradley Beal. I can’t think of better guys for a young wing to apprentice under.