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2018-2019 Clippers Exit Interviews: Jerome Robinson

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Jerome Robinson still looks like a prospect — but a good one.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Basic Information:

Name: Jerome Robinson

Age: 22

Years in NBA: 1

Position: Shooting Guard

Key Stats: Played in 33 games with the LA Clippers and 24 games with the Agua Caliente Clippers; 40-31.6-66.7 shooting splits in 9.7 minutes per game in the NBA.

2018-2019 Contract: $3,050,160 (rookie deal)

Future Contract Status: $3,563,760 next year; team options for 2021 and 2022.

Summary:

In early August, Clips Nation did a roundtable grading of the Clippers’ drafting of Jerome. I gave the pick a B-, with the below rationale.

Had you asked me to grade this pick on draft night, I likely would have assigned a C or lower. With all of the guards already on the Clippers’ roster -- including SGA, who got drafted just the pick before -- drafting another guard just didn’t seem to make sense. Then, we got a glimpse of his ability to score; first through college highlights, then through the Summer League.

I also wrote the season preview for Jerome, so I can’t hide from my opinions or predictions:

So, to sum it up, I would put it this way: Expect Jerome to score well when he gets the opportunity, but don’t expect those moments to come frequently. He is an investment towards a future roster that needs the next generation of the microwave, instant-offense sixth man.

With this as a backdrop, I would say that Jerome’s season landed within the range of expected possibilities, although towards the lower end. He didn’t play very many significant minutes, which could be the result of a few things: Firstly, he was stuck behind Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and, later, Landry Shamet, so his playing time was almost predetermined. On the other hand, however, Jerome didn’t give Doc many excuses to find playing time for him.

In 9.7 minutes per game, Jerome averaged 3.4 points per game, about 1 rebound, and a half an assist. But in so few overall minutes (320), stats struggle to tell the whole picture. From the perspective of the “eye test,” Jerome didn’t look ready to be trusted with consistent minutes or a featured role off the bench, but he had a few really nice moments sprinkled throughout the season.

Strengths:

As I noted above, Jerome had a few really nice moments during the season. The first that comes to mind is his seven point “explosion” against the Warriors in Game 4 of the playoffs:

Robinson started his surge with a 27-foot three-pointer to pull the Clippers to within 35-31. He made two free throws and scored on dunk to tie the score 35-35, forcing the Warriors to call a timeout. — Broderick Turner, LA Times

This type of sequence is what we all imagined could be Jerome’s role going in to the season: instant offense off the bench, with shooting beyond the arc. Through his play on the main roster and in the G-League — where he was fantastic — we saw that he is a pure shooter, as advertised.

In the G-League, especially, Robinson looked like someone who could get whatever he wanted, which is promising. Sure, we’d rather him producing for the main roster, but at least he got experience and continued to prove that he was far better than a fringe NBA player.

But while his most successful outing came in Ontario, Jerome had stretches on the main roster that looked confident. Specifically, from late January to early February, Jerome played double-digit minutes on average and actually contributed in meaningful ways, even though he didn’t have eye-catching numbers. His teammates and coaches praised him publicly and probably gave Jerome enough sense of belonging to allow him to have the surge that he had in the playoffs. With all that said, I would say Jerome’s strengths are pro-level offensive skills and general competence on the court.

Weaknesses:

Jerome had a tough start to the season, suffering a foot injury that kept him out for about a month, which isn’t necessarily a weakness, but it was a negative on his season’s report card. Clips Nation often cracks jokes about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander needing to lift weights, but Jerome could probably benefit from getting a little stronger, as well. If we’re thinking of potential players for him to emulate, we might consider Eric Gordon, who is likewise a complete scorer and an above average three point shooter. Gordon, however, can finish strong at the rim because he’s well built, while Jerome has to rely on finesse.

Defense seems to be an obvious “weakness,” although the team’s exceptions for him on that end are likely low anyways. The stats indicate that he holds his opponents to respectable shooting percentages, although, again, he didn’t play that many minutes or defend very many shots, so it’s hard to say.

Finally, the overall “weakness” in Jerome’s game is just consistency and readiness. For every breakthrough, there was a moment at which he looked like a college player.

Final Grade: B-

I really like Jerome. I think he has a good attitude and the ability to be a dangerous NBA scorer. I went to a G-League game this season, and saw him not only dominate effortlessly, but also look like he was mentally more advanced in the way he approached the each play. And, although he was drafted high, I did not personally have lottery-pick expectations for him.

The Clippers had a great, great season — and Jerome had only a marginal effect on it, in either direction. But he did have a season of growth and a real moment on the big stage against what might be the best roster in recent NBA history. Sure, this season will hopefully be his worst, but, for now, Jerome is doing fine and earned a B-.

Future with Clippers:

Unless he gets unloaded in a big trade in the next nine months, I imagine that Jerome will be around for a few years. He’s lucky that his skills do not overlap too much with SGA and Shamet, or else he would be expendable. Because he’s a more all-around scorer than either of the Clippers’ other rookies, he has a chance to grow with them instead of compete with two players who are currently far better than him.