SAN FRANCISCO — Three months ago, Glenn Robinson III joined the Warriors in hopes of resurrecting his career. Along the way, he learned a unique way of achieving his goal.
During one of Robinson’s first film sessions, Warriors coach Steve Kerr Kerr — a disciple of eclectic Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson — showed a football-centered video montage of free safeties getting burned on deep passes.
“Steve was like, ‘Y’all laughing but that’s how we should feel if we get beat over the top,” Robinson recalled following Friday’s preseason win over the Los Angeles Lakers. “The first thing is to stop the ball.”
The tactic floored the six-year veteran.
“No other coach has explained it that way,” Robinson said. “It was a good way to get everybody to wake up. It was different and to a way we understand it.”
For the last two weeks, Robinson has been one of the Warriors’ biggest training-camp surprises. He earned the starting small-forward job following the expected departure of Alfonzo Mckinnie, and Robinson has impressed his new team.
“Glenn is rock solid,” Kerr said. “He understands his role, he understands it. He’s a good three-point shooter.”
Remnants of Robinson’s training-camp performance were on display Friday. Less than a minute into the Warriors’ 124-103 win, he received a no-look pass from D’Angelo Russell and hit a 3-pointer in front of the Warriors’ bench. In the second quarter, Robinson hit another 3-pointer from the same spot. By the end of the night, he accumulated 13 points, six rebounds and two steals.
The onset of Robinson’s career has been defined by movement, as he played for three teams in his first three NBA seasons. He seemed to gain traction in Indiana, where he became a solid rotation player for the PAcers behind star forward Paul George. In 2016-17, Robinson shot 39 percent from 3-point range.
Over a three-year stretch with the Pacers, Robinson shot 45 percent from the field, including 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.
However, after Robinson signed a two-year, $8.3 million contract with the Detroit Pistons in 2018, there was an expectation that the 25-year-old would take the next step. Those plans never came to fruition as Robinson averaged just 4.2 points and 1.5 rebounds while shooting 42 percent from the field as injuries limited him to 47 games.
Robinson continued to struggle even after a mid-season trade sent Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock out of town. On draft night, the Pistons agreed to trade for sharpshooter Tony Snell and selected Sekou Doumbouya, prompting them to decline Robinson’s $4.3 million team option.
With his career in need of repair, he looked to the Western Conference, where the Warriors — who lost Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala in a 48-hour span — offered Robinson an opportunity most teams didn’t: A chance to start on a team with playoff aspirations.
“I’ve backed up Paul George, I’ve backed up a lot of guys in my time but here I had a unique situation,” Robinson said. “I really wanted the opportunity to take that and show what I can do.”
With the Warriors, Robinson is adjusting to a new culture, one less defined by rugged training camps and more by a player-friendly environment led by Kerr.
“He gets that we don’t need to be in here all day,” Robinson told NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s about efficiency. So every other team I’ve had two-a-days, come back and you’re tired and you’re hurt. You can see how they’re just smart about things.”
Kerr’s need for efficiency nearly discouraged Robinson, long used to proving himself in rugged practices. But transition has helped Robinson, who averaged 8.8 points and four rebounds in five preseason games.
“I really didn’t know if they knew my whole game or what I could do because practices were so short at the beginning,” Robinson said. “But as time came along, Steve told me he knew what I could do and he knew my game and he could see it from the camp. So I’m just glad it worked out the way it did and continue to get better.”
“He’s got more to his game than I realized,” Kerr added. “I always looked at him as a spot-up three-point guy but he’s a good cutter. He understands our split game and our movement.”
Now, with the season nearly underway and a starting spot in tow, Robinson is hopeful he can be a vital piece.
So are the Warriors.
“He’s enjoying himself out there,” Kerr said. “I’m really glad Glenn’s here.”