In my last article, I outlined some areas of improvement for senior guard Cameron Wright. Today, I want to highlight a few things that I hope junior point guard James Robinson adds to his arsenal for the 2014-2015 season.
At this point, we're still not sure who is going to play in the Pro-Am. Robinson did last year after his return from Prague, Czech Republic as part of the U19 USA National Team and hopefully will participate.
The biggest thing most fans believe Robinson needs to work on isn't exactly rocket science - shooting. For everything that he does great, Robinson is still a hesitant and semi-unreliable outside shooter.
To his credit, he did shoot a decent percentage from three-point distance at 34.3%. However, that is a little deceiving because he only made 24 out of 70 attempts. That was only .7 makes on 1.9 attempts per game last year. Of the 36 games he participated in last season, Robinson failed to connect from deep in 17 of them; in six of those contests he didn't even attempt a three-pointer.
On the one hand, a traditional point guard (what Robinson is) shouldn't be taking a high volume of shots when their primary responsibility is to get everyone involved. But, if Robinson was more of an offensive threat, it would open up some more passing lanes as defenders wouldn't be able to sag off of him and fill the lanes.
I don't think anyone is expecting him to morph into Stephen Curry, but he'll need to improve his stroke to keep the defense honest; especially, if he and Wright are the starting backcourt. I think with Robinson it's all about confidence. He doesn't have terrible form on his jump shot, although it isn't the quickest release. He simply needs to take the open looks that come his way. No one is going to make every open look, but you hate to see a guy pass up an uncontested shot.
I love how steady Robinson is as a player, and his 4:1 assist to turnover ratio is something all point guards should strive for. He is adept at pushing the ball in transition and finding the right man on the break. I'd like to see him be able to find players in scoring position off the dribble this season. He doesn't consistently beat his man in one-on-one situations, but Robinson can get into the paint. If he can improve a little bit on finding those interior passing lanes on his drives, it will get the frontcourt players some easy baskets.
Lastly, I think Robinson needs to avoid silly fouls on the perimeter. He is easily the teams best on-ball defender, and I love his tenacity. But, the revisions to the hand-check rules last season made it a little more challenging. Robinson is an extremely smart player, and I am sure this won't be an issue for him. Still, it's worth noting because of how valuable a player he is when he is on the court.
Nothing I mentioned here is revolutionary, or more importantly, unreasonable in terms of player development. I'd be surprised if Robinson doesn't improve in all the areas I outlined above. The real question is how much he'll improve in those aspects of his game, as that will go a long way in determining how good the Pittsburgh Panthers will be this upcoming season.