Glenn Robinson III: “I’ve Been on the Bench Way Too Long”

The Indiana Pacers’ starting lineup is playing better on both sides of the ball with Glenn Robinson III as the shooting guard.

Glenn Robinson III isn’t going to give up his starting spot with the Indiana Pacers easily.

The door opened when Monta Ellis when down with a groin injury during the win against the Portland Trail Blazers. After weeks of clamoring, we finally got to see what the starters looked like with Robinson in the lineup.

The early results? So far, so good.

On both sides of the ball, the GR3 lineup is outperforming the Ellis one.

When you pull back and look at the whole season, GR3’s is posting a 12.5 net rating compared to -4.2 by Monta’s. The new Robinson lineup shoots 3% better from the field and 9.8% better from 3-point range as a group compared to the group with Ellis.

Robinson even posted his second double-double of the season with — his first sharing the floor with Paul George — in the win over the Detroit Pistons by grabbing 12 rebounds and scoring 10 points.

His own numbers over this stretch — 5.6 points and 6 rebounds a game — aren’t overly impressive, but the team is playing its best basketball of the season with GR3 in the starting lineup.

GR3 helps space the floor while not needing the ball in hands to be effective like many of the players on the Pacers’ roster. Another positive sign during this stretch is some of the more-heavily-used bench lineups are playing well, also.

So what happens when Ellis comes back from injury? Jordan J Wilson of the Indianapolis Star reports Robinson isn’t planning to give up his spot without a fight while coach Nate McMillan hasn’t committed to an answer either way.

On Sunday, McMillan commended Robinson’s energy during the road stretch but was unwilling to say whether he could keep a starting spot once Ellis returns. Robinson, however, left no question about what he wants: He wants to stay in the starting lineup.

“I think when another role guy goes down, this opportunity that I’m given, I’m really trying to keep it,” Robinson said. “That’s my job (to) come in competitive and to come in wanting to keep that spot. Like I said from the beginning of the season, I’ve been on the bench way too long (and I’m) trying to get back (in the starting lineup). Obviously, that’s what I’m trying to do, that’s my goal, but in the end, it’s on Nate to make that decision.”

With Ellis still out, we’ll get to see more of the GR3 lineup and also how other teams adjust to it. The bench units are still a bit of a tossup in my mind as they’ll have to integrate Monta into them before we declare this experiment a success. If Monta can’t fit in (or Rodney Stuckey and Aaron Brooks, whatever the case may be), then the Pacers will need to make some moves if they want to improve the team.

For what it is worth, Ellis looked fine in the one game he came off the bench.

Moving GR3 to the starting lineup is a success so far, but if the bench unit becomes something that destroys the starters gains, then Indiana only rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic.

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