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Pitt Basketball: Nas At Small Forward? Not Right Now.

I haven't always felt this way.

There were times in the past that I insisted Nasir Robinson at small forward was a great idea. You know, so Dixon could then play Khem Birch at power forward and Dante Taylor at center. Now that he is pushing to play there? Not so much.

For one thing, Nas has been wildly successful at the four. Why mess with a good thing? Plus, he's also not a great outside shooter - something he'd become more of if he were a small forward.

But there's more to it than that.

As I've pointed out, I'm not completely sold on Birch as an offensive threat. Nas might not look the part, but while he can't exactly score at will, he is definitely a capable offensive player. He hits more than 50% of his shots and can even drive to the basket. In addition, the mismatches he gets at the 4 are flat out sick. Taller, slower defenders are usually caught trying to guard him and he's good enough offensively that he can get his own shot against them.

Other than Birch, Pitt will have Talib Zanna there. And after a fast start, Zanna proved largely disappointing as the season went along, ending with the nonsensical injury to finish his season. I think he can be a good player for Pitt, but not sure how much I'd count on him to be a key role player this year.

On the flipside, Pitt has some firepower at small forward. There's J.J. Moore, who may be the most athletic guy on the team. There's also Lamar Patterson, who filled in admirably for Ashton Gibbs last season, but the key is Moore. If Pitt were to move Nas to small forward, that would severely limit the minutes of Moore. Pitt really could use his scoring and I'm not sure if the team is better served with him only getting 6-8 minutes a game this year. He could serve as a backup shooting guard, but I think he probably projects more as a small forward. And if Gibbs starts at shooting guard this season, how much time would he get there anyway?

Keeping Robinson at power forward would give Pitt more scoring punch and makes more sense to me - at least until Birch proves he can step in and contribute. And as we saw with Fab Melo last year, that doesn't always happen even with the most talented freshmen.

If Birch can prove he can shoulder the load by, say, the Big East season, then I could be convinced otherwise.  But for right now, I'd keep Nas away from small forward.