A Tuesday night when quality minutes are given to the Indiana Pacers' bench players provides Glenn Robinson another opportunity to show he belongs with his new team.
The second-year pro caught the eye of head coach Frank Vogel during offseason workouts and has continued to deliver during the preseason. Robinson scored 13 points, about his preseason average, as the Pacers defeated the Detroit Pistons 101-97 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
He made five-of-six shots, all three foul shots and grabbed six rebounds in just under 24 minutes of action. Robinson scored nine points in the final quarter as the Pacers pulled away with a 28-23 finish to improve to 3-1 in preseason play.
"I'm having a lot of fun, learning from some guys, George Hill, Paul George," said Robinson, whose potential impressed Pacers president Larry Bird enough to receive a three-year contract. "These guys just kind of took me under their wing. I feel like I'm learning every day, continuing to grow as a player, go out and show I belong."
As a second-round pick out of Michigan, he didn't fit with either Minnesota or Philadelphia. He averaged just 4.3 minutes in 25 games with the Timberwolves, then after being released he played 15.3 minutes per game in 10 appearances with the 76ers. He averaged 4.4 points in the latter stint, 2.1 points for the year.
The son of former Purdue star Glenn Robinson welcomed the chance to come home to the state of Indiana. The 21-year-old Gary native displayed the potential that explained why Bird signed him.
Asked what Robinson has shown him so far, Vogel smiled Tuesday and said, "A lot."
Then the sixth-year Pacers coach expounded upon that succinct answer.
"It's not a surprise," Vogel said. "If it happens once or twice, then maybe it can be false expectations or false excitement, but he's been doing this the whole month of September. He was one of our best players in all the pick-up games. He's just carried it through into October.
"He's playing with confidence, he's shooting the ball well, he's driving the ball well, he's running the floor well. When he gets to the paint, he's making good decisions. He's working really hard on the defensive end. Definitely impressed and excited with what we have in him."
Robinson says it's all about getting the chance to show his stuff.
"That just gives me confidence that coach is confident enough to put me into the game to back up these guys and continue to learn," he said. "When we go on film, he's on me and he's teaching me so I'm able to grow. I just want to continue to grow as a player and get better."
There's no need to dwell on the recent past. His future is promising. The Pacers' best player, two-time All-Star Paul George, sees that, too.
"Man, I love the kid," George said. "He's really grown with our program. He's like all our young guys, they just soak up everything so well. I've been able to spend the whole summer with him, all the way up to this point.
"He was completely different when he came in. He was a lot like me (when younger). I didn't know when to be assertive, when to be aggressive. I had a lot of guys ahead of me. I didn't want to step on toes. He went through that same trend. But now it's coming around for him and, man, he's going to be good. He's going to be real good."
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