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John Lucas III is out and Nate Robinson is in for the Chicago Bulls.
Chicago did not bring back its third string point guard in Lucas, and recently inked Robinson to take care of the those duties. Robinson is slightly smaller than Lucas, but he brings in the same type of scoring mentality. During many games I would watch JL3 make a few shots and suddenly everything would become a green light in his mind. Three pointers with 20 seconds left on the clock, and while being contested. Shy is something he certainly wasn’t. Sometimes it helped bring them back in games, but other times his shot selection was truly detrimental. This was compounded by the shot selection of the main backup C.J. Watson. Together they could shoot the Bulls back into a game, and they could also shoot them out of a game, to my dismay.
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What really changes with Robinson? The most obvious thing is that Robinson is certainly a better athlete, but he’s even smaller than the undersized JL3. In terms of decision making Robinson will take many of the same ill-advised shots Lucas took. Robinson has gone off multiple times in his career with truly inspiring performances, but more often than not he’ll leave you scratching your head. Over 111 career games Lucas has shot 34% from three which made him a capable shooter to kick it too or who could create his own shot. Robinson has shot a slightly better 35% over a much longer 448 game career. From the free-throw line they’re similar again. Lucas has shot 81% while Nate has shot 79.8%. As I alluded to earlier, both can score. Robinson has averaged 17.6 points per 36 minutes over his career. Similarly, JL3 has averaged 16.3 points per 36 minutes. Still, Robinson is probably a more capable scorer when he gets adequate minutes. In terms of true shooting percentage Robinson
has a clear advantage with 53% to Lucas’ 48%. This is partly due to Robinson having a stronger field goal percentage of 42.5 compared to Lucas’ 39.8. While they’re prized for their ability to score in condensed time, they’re still point guards. Neither is phenomenal distributing the ball, but Nate averages 4.4 assists per 36 minute while Lucas comes in at 4.5.
On the defensive side of things I don’t expect much of a change. While Robinson has had some iffy defensive ratings during his career they’ve come with poor defensive teams. While Nate was with the Celtics he posted a more acceptable rating of 104 in contrast to his next lowest rating of 110. Lucas has a career rating of 103, but has only had two seasons of more than 40 games. If you take just those two seasons he has a rating of 102. One such season was this past season with the Bulls which was a fantastic defensive team. While the Bulls have had some overhaul, or underhaul if you will, they still have a defensive minded head coach and players that take pride in that end of the floor. I feel Robinson should perform just fine in his time on the floor. He won’t be Avery Bradley or Iman Shumpert out there, but he shouldn’t get roasted if he plays within the scheme.
In the end, the Bulls lose an oft contributor, but at the same time they gain a player just as if not more capable. Bulls’ fans seemed to react with general disappointment with the move and with seeing JL3 go, but if they could tolerate him then they can do so with Robinson. Nate has shown he’s able to play within his game and the team’s system when he has strong coaching. The Bulls have the coaching figure who can get through to him. He’ll provide no less than Lucas in the box score or in the energy department. He’s another short guy so fans will probably fall in love with him, or maybe not since the Bulls are taking a title contention break this upcoming season.