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2019-20 Clippers Report Card: Jerome Robinson

The Clippers took an L on their 2019 first-rounder.

Cleveland Cavaliers v LA Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Key information:

Name: Jerome Robinson

Age: 23

Years in the NBA: 2

Key stats: In 42 regular-season games with the Clippers, including one start, Robinson averaged 2.9 points, 1.1 assists, and 0.3 steals in 11.3 minutes per game.

Future contract status: Robinson is now completing his rookie contract with Washington Wizards after being traded to the Wizards in February.

Summary:

During his rookie season, Jerome Robinson was often compared to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, another first-year player drafted two slots ahead of him, and Robinson fell short. While Gilgeous-Alexander easily adapted to the NBA game, Robinson had to make his way through the G League first. Then, Landry Shamet came in and instantly dazzled in the Clippers offense, and was yet another rookie who outshined Robinson.

Robinson’s year ended on an uptick, as he played well during LA’s playoff series against Golden State, but his second season got off to an ominous start when he failed to impress in Summer League. Traditionally, Summer League is the playground for second-year players, especially lottery picks, but Robinson once again didn’t deliver. He lacked explosion, was inconsistent with his shot, and didn’t impact the games. It’s worth noting that Robinson was ill at the start of the tournament, but he had a chance to carve out a role as the backup point guard, and he couldn’t do that, leaving an opening for Terance Mann to usurp that spot in the rotation.

The Clippers’ injury woes during the regular season gave spot minutes for Robinson to contribute, but he wasn’t able to find consistent minutes; he even fell behind Derrick Walton Jr. in the rotation at certain points. Ultimately, the Clippers didn’t see enough out of Robinson to justify keeping him around, and they shipped him away in the Marcus Morris Sr. deal at the trade deadline.

Strengths:

Robinson was a surprisingly competent defensive player. He had the best defensive rating on the Clippers, per NBA.com. That wasn’t a function of him playing next to good defensive players; his rating actually improved when he was on the floor without Kawhi Leonard and Ivica Zubac. Robinson competed really well on defense. He has enough size to capably defend two guards, and he’s strong against smaller opponents.

The second-year Clipper was also a good playmaker. His assist totals looked low because he so rarely handled the ball, but his assist-to-usage ratio ranked in the 81st percentile of wings, per Cleaning the Glass. The outlines of a combo guard were there, if only Robinson could figure out the scoring.

Weaknesses:

In three seasons at Boston College, Robinson shot 37.6 percent from 3-point range. His shooting percentages in his final year were 48.5/40.9/83.0 on field goals, threes, and free throws, respectively. And yet, when he got to the Clippers, Robinson couldn’t shoot. Not from anywhere. He had the single worst true shooting percentage of any wing in the NBA in 2019-20 while he was with the Clippers.

When Robinson couldn’t make shots, confidence became an issue. He shied away from taking open looks, and his turnovers consequently spiked because he was either driving into a crowded defense or passing the ball back to a contested teammate. Members of the Clippers front office would be imploring Robinson to shoot every time he got the ball, because he wasn’t contributing otherwise on offense. Even misses were satisfactory so long as Robinson was making the right play, but more often than not, he stagnated the offense by refusing to take the shots he was given.

It was an incredibly strange turn of events for a player who was drafted as a scorer and potential defensive liability to turn into the exact opposite, but that was Robinson’s arc in Los Angeles. He seemed to get his mojo back at least with Washington, but efficiency is still a long ways away.

Future with the Clippers:

Robinson has two years left on his deal with the Wizards, so he’s not coming back to the Clippers, at least not any time soon. There’s no sugar-coating it at this point: the Clippers made a bad pick selecting him at no. 14 in the 2019 draft, and the only value they got out of him was to match salary in a trade.

Overall grade: C-