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Unlucky Number 13? Jerome Robinson Struggles in Cracking Lineup

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Despite being a lottery pick for the Clippers, Jerome Robinson hasn’t sniffed the floor yet in the regular season. With fellow rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander already becoming an impactful player, where does this leave Robinson?

NBA: NBA Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

As I was watching the Clippers-Rockets matchup Sunday night, an idea plopped into my head. I was witnessing the Clippers clank three-point shots off the rim all night, and thought, who could help this situation? I was going down the rabbit hole of players on this roster. Luc Mbah A Moute and Mike Scott both knocked down three’s Sunday, which was helpful, but there had to have been other options right? Yes, Milos can hit a shot sometimes but can he even run down the court without needing a cigarette break? Tyrone Wallace is effective but has a notoriously ineffective outside shot. Sindarius Thornwell hasn’t proven he can consistently hit threes either.

I almost gave up this line of thinking when I literally had to remind myself that the Clippers had two lottery picks and used their original pick on Jerome Robinson. I actually forgot about a rookie guard on this team because of how invisible he has been thus far. It was alarming (also probably an indication I need to get more sleep — being on the east coast, these late games are brutal), and I became a tiny bit frustrated for Jerome.

Yes, he was a reach at the 13th pick, but this is a guy who averaged nearly 21 points a game in the ACC, the hardest conference in college basketball. He scored 1591 points in only three seasons in B.C. and shot 40 percent from three and 48.5 percent from the field in his junior season. College success doesn’t necessarily translate to success in the pro’s, but Jerry West and Lawrence Frank saw something in Jerome that no one else did. Was it is “professional scoring” ways? Was it his two-way potential being a 6’5” two guard? Was it because he was unfazed in big moments? Whatever it was, we haven’t been able to witness it so far.

We were able to witness his game a bit in the Summer League and preseason, however. For the Summer League, even though he was dealing with bouts of right knee soreness, Robinson put up 13.7 points a game in only 24 minutes. He also shot 44 percent from the field and contributed nearly three boards a game. A solid start for sure. In five preseason games, Robinson knocked down seven triples and averaged 6.4 points a game. It wasn’t the best showing offensively, but there were several highlights, including a 12 point performance against the Nuggets. However, Robinson brought two-way impact with some solid defense, and in the four games in which he played more than 15 minutes, Robinson posted a combined +38 in plus/minus. That is a nice sign for a rookie even in preseason.

Obviously, the Clippers have a good problem in the amount of guards they have on their roster. They are one of the deepest teams in the league, and even had to resort to cutting Jawun Evans, someone they traded into the draft to get just a summer prior, last week. However, you would think with a lot of guards, the Clips would be a better shooting team right? Through four games they are woeful from three. They rank 28/30 in three-point percentage making only 29.3 percent of their deep balls.

Let’s be real here for a second Clips fans: there is no way the Clips are going to contend in the West if they shoot under 35% from three this season. Yes, the two wins we have thus far have been impressive. But the Clips got lucky with both teams lacking their All-Star point guards. This lack of shooting hurt them against the Pelicans Tuesday night. Even though the Clips shot 47 percent from the field, they misfired again from three, chucking up a horrid 5-for-20. In a league dominated by outside shooting and pace, making only five threes in a game will not cut it. The next four games are against four playoff teams from last season, including the Thunder with Russell Westbrook and the Rockets with CP3 back. If the shooting woes continue, these games could turn ugly.

This is where Robinson can come in and provide a spark. I have already written about Avery Bradley’s ineptness on the offensive end. The second unit shooting isn’t much better either. While Mbah a Moute has shot well thus far and is a better defender, the Clips are going to need to keep up in the scoring department moving forward. All Robinson does is score. A bench lineup with Jerome in it could be impactful on both ends and his scoring will be much needed. Imagine the playmaking and shooting of the SGA-Lou-Jerome trio?

Jerome is still the highest drafted player to not see the floor so far. Pending injury, this trend could continue for months. The Clips drafted two guards to stack the deck and allow for insurance, but it has to be disheartening for Jerome to see his fellow rookie getting 25 minutes a game while he is in a suit on the sidelines. It looks as though Jerome is going to have to develop in the G-League, with the Agua Caliente Ontario Clippers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I’m sure he would rather actually play than just sit, but not even dressing for games has to frustrating for him. Even if a game were to turn into a blowout, Jerome still wouldn’t get any burn as an inactive player. Doc isn’t usually keen on playing rookies big minutes, although SGA is an exception, so this isn’t all that surprising. However, why not let Robinson try to effect the game offensively? L.A. needs the shooting badly and they aren’t getting it from anyone else really. Why not take the chance?