SAN FRANCISCO – Glenn Robinson III joined the Warriors partly because he has been peaking in their direction for a couple years and partly because Draymond Green, the team’s busiest recruiter, has been in his ear.
Mostly, he came because the summertime departures of Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, as well as the serious knee injury sustained by Klay Thompson, created a job opening that speaks to him.
The Warriors need a competent small forward in their starting lineup, someone who occasionally can make a shot, embraces defense and understands teamwork.
“It was a big reason why I chose to come here in free agency,” Robinson said late Thursday night, after the Warriors’ 143-123 preseason win over Minnesota at Chase Center.
“I’ve said it in the past, but I looked at the Warriors a couple years back. Draymond gave me a call. I knew this was always a great fit for me. I’m just excited to be here and just having an opportunity to play and compete for that starting spot.”
With coach Steve Kerr basically holding internal roster tryouts for the starting spot, Robinson was the choice for the second preseason game. He responded with 13 points (6-of-11 from the field, 1-of-3 from deep), five rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes.
He also found Steph Curry, who lit up the night with 40 points in 25 minutes.
“I liked Glenn’s aggression,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I like that he recognized, on back-to-back plays, as he caught the ball in transition, to run a dribble handoff with Steph. That’s always a good option.
“That recognition is really important on our team. Some guys, it takes longer to figure out. But when you come to our team and you realize the weaponry, the arsenal that Steph has, and the ability to shot make, you need to recognize the situations where he’s a threat.”
Robinson, a 6-foot-6 Michigan product, son of 1994 No. 1 overall draft pick, Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson, signed a one-year contract worth $1.88 million to join his fifth team since being drafted by Minnesota in the second round (40th overall) in 2014.
He is an example of where the Warriors are these days. After years of chasing superstars and other name-brand talent, and winning at an historic clip, the Warriors are careful shoppers looking for value.
“Guys are literally competing for spots on the team, spots in the rotation, and it’s all new to a lot of us,” Robinson said. “It’s only a couple guys here from those past teams. So, we’re just coming in every day ready to work.”
The only players on the current active roster to know the feeling of champagne in the locker room are Kevon Looney, Curry and Green.
The true veterans, Green and Curry, are behind Robinson and see possibilities.
“Over the summer, when we signed him, you could kind of see how he could fit in that ‘3’ spot and add some balance and some versatility,” Curry said. “He’s extremely athletic. He can shoot. He can play defense. So, he’s definitely a great option. And he’s getting comfortable.”
Alfonzo McKinnie, who earned the final roster spot last year, started the preseason opener and didn’t play particularly well. Alec Burks, free agent who signed with the Warriors one day after Robinson, is dealing with an ankle sprain and has not practiced in a week.
Robinson on Thursday played with a hunger, as if he sees this as perhaps his best opportunity to establish himself with a team. It might be enough to earn a spot in the starting lineup.