Jerome Robinson has been one of the most pleasant surprises on the Wizards roster so far during their time in Orlando. With increased minutes, Robinson has been able to play more freely and not wonder when All-Star Bradley Beal was at the scorer's table ready to check-in and take his place.
Through four games, Robinson is averaging 17 points while shooting 46 percent from the field and 36 percent from three on 6.3 attempts per game. His 55 effective field goal percentage is second only to Thomas Bryant among the Wizards' regular rotation members.
Most noteworthy has been Robinson's overall consistency, as that has eluded him so far in his career. In four games at Disney World, Robinson has reached double-digits in scoring each time. He had never scored 10 or more in consecutive games previously.
"That's something that we've talked about with Jerome and we're working on with him," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I like his approach. In order to have a consistent game, you've gotta have a consistent approach going into a game. I think he does a pretty good job. As a young player, he has a pretty nice routine that he sticks with."
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Producing on a regular basis next season could be difficult in the role Robinson is expected to serve. He will be behind Beal, who plays a lot of minutes (he led the league last year) and who holds a very large share of duties on offense. Brooks mentioned the chance Robinson plays some small forward next season, just to make sure he gets on the floor.
Backing up Beal is important, as the Wizards know full well. They have had some trouble finding a solution at that spot on their depth chart. Those personnel issues may say as much about the difficulty of the role as the players they have tried in fulfilling it.
Brooks knows from experience as a player and coach how tough it can be in general to thrive as a bench player.
"You have to be able to do it. To stay in this league and stay in rotations and get consistent playing time, you've gotta perform consistently," Brooks said. "That's the hardest thing. That's why you see a lot of role players get moved around and role players that don't end up staying for a long time. It's hard to stay in this league if you're not consistent."
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Robinson, 23, said he has been in contact with Beal throughout his time in Orlando. Beal has told him to be aggressive looking for his own shot. So far, he's been able to do that. Robinson is averaging 12.5 shots per game in Orlando after taking only 6.2 shots per game in previous 13 games with the team since coming over in a February trade.
Scoring, though, isn't necessarily what Robinson will need to focus on. He has one of the higher ceilings defensively of any player on the Wizards. His physical defense on the perimeter stands out, partly because that isn't a forté for many of their players.
Robinson is committed to getting better on that end of the floor.
"If you can't guard your guy or help the next man, you won't play. Defense is huge for me. From a personal standpoint, I would love to be All-Defense someday," he said.
Point guard Ish Smith has been around long enough to spend plenty of time both as a starter and a reserve. He understands the challenge of playing on the bench, and has even backed up stars. But for him, the best approach is to keep it simple and just strive to leave the game to the starters in a better place than it was when he checked in.
Smith is seeing good signs from Robinson and believes he can make the most of what will be a very different role next season than he is serving in Orlando.
"I know for Jerome, the consistency he's playing with by knocking down shots in Orlando, he's going to do the same [in D.C.]. He just needs to continue the way he's playing and his confidence will grow with each shot," Smith said.
"So, he'll be fine. Just don't worry about the 'I'm playing behind a star, so don't let me mess up' kind of mentality."
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