If you’ve followed many of us draft-heads here at DBB, like ScottFL and myself, you’ll know we don’t advocate drafting traditional centers. As the league becomes increasingly perimeter-oriented on both sides of the ball, centers that can neither guard perimeter players in space nor space the floor themselves with the three-point shot have become a major liability — especially the deeper a team goes into the playoffs . To close out these second-round previews on players in the NBA Draft who might interest the Detroit Pistons, I want to present a center that can do at least one of these things and could be a major sleeper due to his other skills.
Orlando Robinson is center out of Fresno State who has been criminally underrated all season. At the NBA Combine, he measured in at 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, a 9-foot-3 standing reach, and weighing in at 244.4 pounds. He also lead Fresno State to a 23-13 record and a Championship victory in The Basketball Classic postseason tournament.
Robinson posted the following per game stat line from this past season:
- 19.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.2 blocks
- 51.7% from two-point range, 35.2% from three-point distance, 71.6% from the free-throw line
- 55.9% True Shooting, 15.9% Total Rebound Percentage, 23.0% Assist Percentage, 12.6% Turnover Rate, 33.7% Usage
A 6-foot-11 big who can shoot and pass, Robinson is similar in many ways to our buddy Kelly Olynyk. They both have athletic limitations (which we will get to in a minute), but you never really see them get run off the court. I do, however, think Robinson is far more physical than Olynyk and is a much better rebounder. But the pitch as a Kelly Olynyk-like player is easy to see when you break down his game.
Robinson’s shooting percentage might seem average, but this was on 105 attempts from deep this past season — the same number of attempts as Chet Holmgren just to put that into perspective. Robinson has put in work over his three years at Fresno State to improve his jumper as he took 52 attempts from three his freshman season, dropped to 45 attempts last season, and finally unleashed the 105 this year. More encouraging is that his percentages went up every single year. Starting at 25.0% as a freshman then progressing to 33.3% last year, and ending up with the 35.2% this year.
Robinson’s court vision, however, puts Robinson in a different category or stretch 5 since he is doing more than just standing around the arc. A lot of Robinson’s passes came out of the post as he was double and triple-teamed, but he also flashed the ability to make the extra pass from a standstill, run DHOs, and do some passing off the bounce. His 103 assists were good for second on the team and his 23.0% assist percentage is better than players rated much higher than him such as Jaden Ivey, Johnny Davis, and Dyson Daniels.
Some may discount his ability to pass since a lot of it came out of the post, but I actually think this is also a major plus for Robinson. Post play is not completely dead in the NBA, and those teams with players that can be efficient and cause major mismatches with it still keep it in their repertoire. Robinson can both score in that paint and at the rim at a high rate, PLUS he can easily find open teammates when teams try to double-team him. I’m not saying he can be a featured part of an offense, but definitely can get the ball in the second unit and abuse smaller guys.
Robinson is also a good rebounder who uses his size, length, and technique to feast on the glass. He pulled in 198 rebounds as a freshman, then 220 as a sophomore, and ended his college career by grabbing 301 rebounds. And he put in work on the glass for Fresno State as that 301 was 103 more rebounds than Anthony Holland who was second on the team in rebounds.
And, it really can’t be understated just how much Robinson did for this Fresno State team as he led the Bulldogs in rebounds, points, blocks, and free throws while also coming in second for steals and assists. He also took the third-most three-point attempts on the team. If you watch any movie game, too, you’ll see Robinson attack off the dribble and breakdown opposing centers — especially the extra stuff ones.
You can see Robinson’s full powers against My New Mexico Lobos
Having grown up in Albuquerque and being a Lobo myself, this pains me to show you, BUT this was one of Robinson’s best games as everything is on display. Shooting, passing, attacking off the bounce, rim protection, ability to pick up some guards, handling of double and triple teams. UNM has ZERO answer for Robinson and all the different things he can do.
The biggest questions about Robinson all have to do about his perceived lack of athleticism. These questions were further magnified when Robinson did test particularly well in the agility drills at the NBA Combine. This will be most concerning on the defensive side of the ball as I know many teams will see him as a guy that can only protect the rim due to his lack of agility.
His rim protection numbers are also not stellar. 1.2 blocks per game is a low number for someone with a seven-foot four-inch wingspan. Teams will wonder why he didn’t block more shots despite that size. And when you watch the tape you will not see some defensive condor ready to swoop in and swat every shot.
I actually think the athletic limitation questions are a bit overblown as they were with Kelly Olynyk. Yeah, he won’t test well in drills, and no he’s not some awesome shot-blocker, but his skill and IQ make up for his lack of athleticism. As I would say with Kelly, just turn on the tape and show me where he gets taken advantage of on a consistent basis. It only happens against top-notch guys. And both Kelly and Orlando are more positional defenders who use their size to alter shots rather than block them. And I still think Robinson has a distinct strength advantage on Olynyk to where Robinson can stand up guys that try to back him down.
Also, if you look at the results from the 2022 NBA Combine, you’ll see Robinson actually beat some notable guys in the short shuttle, max vertical, and lane agility drills like Patrick Baldwin Jr., Hugo Besson, Kofi Cockburn, Ryan Rollins, Peyton Watson, and Blake Wesley to name a few. Where he did come last was in the three-quarter sprint and the vertical standing. I never put any stock into these drills, but if you do I wanted you to at least know the data and where the concern should be when it came to these tests.
Why would the Pistons draft a Kelly Olynyk when they have Kelly Olynyk you might be asking? Understudy baby! Olynyk is 31 and is only signed through 2024. That means Robinson could work on his craft this season in the G League, get time off the bench next year, before finally filling in a similar role to KO in his third year. That follows the development path of many a second-round pick that went on to have long careers.
This also gives the Pistons another option next to Beef Stew in the frontcourt who takes the pressure off Beef Stew developing that jumpshot. Robinson can space the floor and be the guy protecting the rim while Beef Stew keeps up his stellar switchability and tenacity getting to the rim and attacking the glass. I also think Robinson provides another offensive option in the second unit with his post play. He will be able to back guys down, score, and pass out of the post. This would also be great for a shooter like Isaiah Livers and a cutter and lob threat like Hamidou Diallo.
Personally, I would love for the Pistons to select Robinson over re-signing Marvin Bagley III or continuing with Luka Garza as Robinson has more skill than Bagley and is not a complete defensive liability like Garza. Robinson does have plenty of skills of a modern NBA center that can be utilized as mismatches and would be a welcome addition in the MotorCade.