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Sleeper Deep Dives: Orlando Robinson
Fresno State big man Orlando Robinson showed significant growth as a scorer and passer this season; his size and shooting touch make him a potential second-round steal in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Orlando Robinson had plenty to prove this season for the Fresno State Bulldogs after returning to school following his solid sophomore season. Robinson led the team in scoring in the shortened 2020-2021 season, but he was still on the outside looking in when it came to the 2021 NBA Draft.
Robinson returned to Fresno State for his junior year, and he put together an even more impressive season that highlighted his growth in key areas. He led Fresno State to a 23-13 record after their 12-12 mark the year before, and he continued to stuff the stat sheet. Robinson averaged 19.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.2 BPG on 48/35/72 shooting splits. He managed to lead the MWC in both Offensive Win Shares (4.5) AND Defensive Win Shares (2.9), per sports-reference. Robinson was named to the All-MWC First Team after a Second Team nod the year before, and he also made the All-MWC Defensive Team.
Robinson is far from the biggest name in the 2022 NBA Draft, but his skill set translates well to the NBA. Listed at 7’0” and 235 pounds and sporting a reported 7’4” wingspan, Robinson is certainly big enough to play center at the next level. His shooting touch for his size would be intriguing enough on its own, but his improved passing and solid defense could be the skills that tip the scales in favor of him hearing his name called on draft night.
Orlando Robinson dominated the MWC this season after excelling against that competition the year before. While some might denounce Robinson’s successes as coming against weaker competition, some of his best games this season came against his most formidable opponents in the most high-leverage situations. His potential as a stretch-big and successes against stronger competition indicate that he has what it takes to contribute positively to an NBA rotation. So…let’s dive deep!'
Offense: Shooting Stroke and Passing Growth
Orlando Robinson will not be the offensive engine of his NBA team as he was for Fresno State this season; however, his shooting ability and passing growth are also ideal for fitting into a smaller role at the next level. Plenty of teams could use a big man who is also a long-range threat, and Robinson’s growth as a passer makes him an even more intriguing rotational fit.
While Robinson will have a reduced offensive role at the NBA level, his versatility on that end will help him to fit into many different rotational contexts. His handle is decent enough for him to get to his spots, and he has the speed and the first step to drive past more plodding big men. Robinson can face up or push opponents around in the post. Unlike many 7-footers, he rarely looks stiff on either end of the floor, and his fluidity is particularly clear on the offensive end.
Robinson might be best as a stretch-big in the NBA, but he does have a well-rounded offensive game beyond his shooting. He ranked in the 80th percentile offensively overall, per Synergy, and he got to that level on the strength of his variety of different offensive skills.
Robinson ranked in the 80th percentile as a post-up player and can punish teams that try to stick a smaller player on him near the perimeter. He has good touch around the basket, and he pairs that with an impressively smooth turnaround jumper. Robinson sets hard screens, is decent as a roll man (ranking in the 57th percentile), and is a serious pick-and-pop threat. Furthermore, he is devastating in transition, ranking in the 90th percentile as a trailer and in the 91st percentile in transition overall.
Still, the primary intrigue with Robinson for most NBA teams is his shooting touch. Robinson put up 2.9 3PA per game this season, a marked increase from his sophomore year, and knocked down 35.2% of his long-range looks. He isn’t just a long-range bomber, though; Robinson ranked in the 63rd percentile on jump shots from 17 feet out to the three-point line, per Synergy, and he can space the floor while playing from the elbow as well as from beyond the arc.
Robinson was particularly lethal as a trailer in transition, but he was also a pick-and-pop threat. Teams have to respect him both in transition and in the halfcourt when he has space beyond the arc:
Robinson opens space up for his teammates with his screen setting and shooting touch, but he isn’t just a standstill threat. He relocates well on the perimeter for a player his size, which further showcases his shooting versatility:
Robinson’s growth as a passer makes him a more viable option on the perimeter, as he is more reliable with the ball in his hands when opponents close out on his space beyond the arc. Furthermore, his improved passing touch makes his post-ups even more devastating, as he is now more than just a scoring threat down low. He is already a master as a scorer on the left block, ranking in the 95th percentile on those looks, but has become nearly as lethal with his dissections of defenses in the post. Robinson ranked in the 88th percentile when passing out of the left block, feeding teammates for perimeter looks and cuts to the rim with aplomb:
Orlando Robinson has the requisite skill set to succeed in a very specific NBA role. His excellence as a trailer and scorer in transition, solid screen setting ability, and versatility as a pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop threat make him an intriguing role-playing big. His fluidity and varied offensive game outside of those abilities, however, indicate that he might be able to develop into more than just a fourth big man. Robinson’s combination of translatable skills and higher potential ceiling should be enough to garner interest among the teams picking in the second round of this year’s draft.
Defense: Size and Steals
Orlando Robinson will likely earn a spot in the 2022 NBA Draft on the basis of his offensive game, but that does not mean that he is purely an offensive player. While his defense is more up-and-down than his offense, and he can occasionally get lost or gamble too much on that end, there are clear positive signs in his defense that should not be overlooked when projecting Robinson as an NBA player.
The place to start with Robinson on defense is his fluidity. His lack of stiffness on the offensive end is certainly encouraging, but it is even more critical to his defensive success. Robinson should not be switching out onto perimeter players frequently by any means, but he can keep up with quicker players for a few steps if necessary. He does a great job of getting into passing lanes and generating steals, and his 7-foot frame is hard to overcome around the basket. Any opposing pass near the rim is liable to get picked off with Robinson nearby:
Robinson is a decent shot-blocker in addition to his propensity for forcing turnovers, and he recovers well even when his assignment gets past him. Robinson’s jumpiness might create openings for the offense at times, but he can also close down those openings almost as quickly as he allowed them to happen in the first place:
While his box score stats are undoubtedly impressive, Robinson gambles for steals and blocks more frequently than he should, looking for a game-changing play. That eagerness often leaves his teammates to clean up his mistakes:
Although Robinson occasionally makes bad gambles and sometimes gets caught ball-watching, he can often make up for those mistakes. His size and mobility allow him to cover massive amounts of ground to snare opposing passes and get out into transition. Those gambles don’t always turn out well, but the successful ones are tantalizing:
Robinson has his flaws defensively, but the good news is that those issues are not due to a lack of effort. Despite his heavy offensive load for Fresno State this season, Robinson’s greatest sins on defense came from trying too hard—not from failing to try hard enough.
Orlando Robinson still has room to grow on the defensive end in terms of his consistency and his decision-making. However, he does offer defensive playmaking and some defensive versatility as hell; he has the tools to be more than just a drop defender. His speed and fluidity give him a chance to succeed in switching defenses, at least in small doses, and that ability to stick with smaller players will allow him to stay on the court when other teams go small. Given his ability to punish smaller defenders in the post and score in transition offensively, his potential to succeed in multiple different defensive schemes will further open up avenues for him to earn a second-round selection and rotation minutes in the NBA.
Orlando Robinson might not have had as many opportunities to shine against elite competition as some of his peers. When the lights were brightest, however, Robinson showed up time and time again. He put up 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out four assists against Cal in a loss, and he scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in their win over UNLV. He put up 31 points against San Jose State in the first round of the MWC Championship Tournament. After struggling against San Diego State earlier in the season, Robinson scored more than half of his team’s points in a valiant effort in Fresno State’s quarterfinals loss in the MWC quarterfinal, and he led the Bulldogs to victory in The Basketball Classic Championship game against Southern Utah. In short, Robinson performed exceptionally well in his school’s most challenging and most important games.
Robinson is currently vying to be the first Fresno State Bulldog selected in the NBA Draft since a certain someone who you may have heard of before by the name of Paul George. While Robinson is not a future superstar in the mold of George, he could easily follow in the footsteps of Dominic McGuire, a second-round pick who ended up signing multiple contracts and even ended up starting a few games after a distinguished career at Fresno State.
Robinson, to be clear, is a very different player from the past two Fresno State draft picks. Still, like McGuire, Robinson has a few different pathways to earning NBA rotation minutes.
Orlando Robinson proved himself as a scorer during his time at Fresno State, and his growth this season is very encouraging for his NBA prospects. His shooting touch, passing ability, and transition success bode well for him adjusting to a smaller role in the NBA. His defensive potential and varied offensive skill set, however, give him the potential to be more than just a deep rotational piece. If Robinson manages to reach his peak potential in the NBA, he could very easily be one of the biggest steals of the 2022 NBA Draft.