The Fresno State Bulldogs are off to a 3-0 start this season, led by junior Orlando Robinson. A Preseason All-MWC selection, Robinson is averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. Compared to last season, the 21-year-old center/power forward appears stronger and more assertive. In short, he looks like a man on a mission, less than five months after going through the NBA draft process.
With a skillset that goes beyond what the average big man can do, Robinson was an early entrant in the 2021 NBA draft. Rich Harris and I spoke with him shortly after he participated at the G-League Elite Camp this past summer (full interview below). Competing against equally talented prospects on the court, combined with feedback from NBA teams, helped the young center gain valuable knowledge for improving his play. He performed well at the Elite Camp, scoring a combined 19 points, while making 50% of his shots, with two threes, in two games. However, his performance was not enough for an invitation to the NBA Combine.
“I was disappointed, but going into it … I went there to get feedback,” Robinson said. “I had everything to gain and nothing to lose.”
He knew that with at least two years of college eligibility to play ball at Fresno State, the decision to test the draft waters was an experience that would benefit him in the long run.
“Gathering knowledge from those NBA teams, gathering their thoughts about me, as a person and as a player,” Robinson said. “This experience has been educational for me and I have been taking it in whole-heartedly.”
According to 247 Sports , Robinson chose Fresno State over offers that he received from Boise State, Georgia Tech, Arizona State and Oregon State. His choice can be linked to his high school career, where he played for the Las Vegas Knicks AAU program, the same team that former Bulldogs Nate Grimes and Agui Agua were a part of.
|Position||Center/Power Forward||Team/Class||Fresno State (Jr.)|
|Wingspan||7’4’’||Vertical||24.5’’ standing, 29.5’’ max|
|Shot Hand||Right||Stats||Click Here|
During his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, Robinson has been able to impact the game in a variety of ways. He can shoot the ball beyond the paint, even as far as the three-point line. He shot 33 percent from deep, while ranking at the 58th percentile for points per possession (PPP) on 3-point attempts in the half court. His jump shooting was a weakness in his first-year at Fresno State, but he put the time in to improve this area of his game, and now shoots with very nice form.
“My defender got away with sitting in the paint and letting me shoot threes because I wasn’t taking them,” Robinson said. “In the future, he won’t be able to do that because I can pop the three if he’s not close enough, and he’ll have to guard me on the perimeter.”
He also has a solid handle, which he uses to size-up his defenders to pull-up for jumpers or attack the rim. Down low, Robinson prefers to go to his strong side with a drop step move or a post hook with his right. Though he needs to improve as a finisher, he can score with either hand, which is a valuable skill. He also knows how to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line. He averaged about 5.8 free-throw attempts per game, knocking them down at a rate of 72 percent.
Robinson’s offensive talents led to numerous double-teams from his opponents in the Mountain West, but the extra defensive pressure did not faze him. Averaging better than two assists per game is solid for a big man, and he thrives at finding the open man cutting to the basket or for the open shot in the perimeter, even making some of these passes with his non-dominant left hand.
“After I scored 31 against Wyoming, I didn’t see a one-on-one matchup for the rest of the season,” Robinson said. “If I didn’t adjust, we would have lost games. The double-teams came, so I had to adapt … that’s how I recognize them so quickly now because I’ve adapted to them.”
Robinson said that he played center all his life, creating a rare case for why he would have the ability to pass, shoot and dribble effectively. He says his dad, who played Division II college ball at San Bernardino, was his best mentor for his game.
“Me and my dad really just wanted more. I wanted to be more than just a big man who shot hooks. I want to be able to do different things like pass and dribble. I didn’t want to just be secluded in one role.”
He says that working on all these skills is something he knew that he had to learn to gain an edge over his competition, and display skills that will draw comparisons to talent at the professional level.
“That’s where the game is going. Bigs like (Nikola) Jokic and Joel Embiid are able to facilitate, dribble the ball, and shoot the three. I just wanted more as a kid, and me and my dad pursued that.”
Robinson’s sheer size helps him stuff the stat sheet, not only on the scoring end, but also on the rebounding side. Last season, he led his team in rebounds per game with 9.2, which was top 40 in the nation for that stat. Robinson was also the Bulldogs’ leading double-double man at 10 as a sophomore. Two of those games included a season-high 15 rebounds against Colorado State, along with 19 points, and another season-high 33 points with 13 boards against Wyoming. His pursuit of the ball is relentless on both ends. He knows how to box-out his matchup on defense, and battle down low on the offensive end to secure second chances for his team.
As noted above, Robinson is not the strongest finisher around the basket, despite his size. A shooting percentage of 44.3 from the field is not ideal for a big. In terms of PPP, he ranked at 50th percentile for both around-the-basket shots and post-up attempts in the half court. He also struggled as a driver in the half court, making just 33 percent of his attempts within seven feet.
When operating as the screener, Robinson tends to post up when receiving the ball on the roll, rather than going straight up with a quick shot. This is a critique scouts highlighted in the Elite Camp, and Robinson recognizes he needs to avoid this habit.
“Post offense is really just for all stars,” Robinson said. “there’s not a lot of role players in the post doing stuff like that. Being able to pick-and-pop … being able to finish with two, three defenders around… being able to attack anywhere … those are big focal points and feedback that they gave me.“
A likely reason for his inside struggles are a lack of explosiveness. At Elite Camp, Robinson did not have the greatest results in athletic testing. The biggest weaknesses were his vertical numbers. His standing vertical was the lowest at the event (24.5’’), and his approach vertical was the second lowest (29.5’’) among all prospects at the camp.
“It doesn’t disappoint,” he said. “It just shows me where I am at. It shows me where I need to work the most.”
The right training and improved athleticism will not only help Robinson’s offensive game, but his defensive game as well. He averaged less than a block per game (0.8) and a steal per game (0.9), leading to a combined 2.1 steals and blocks per 40 minutes this season. With added verticality, along with his size, he will send some more shots back when contesting drivers, and even chase down shots for rejections in transition.
“My body was a big weakness,” he said. “Strictly in my legs, strictly in my base, having more balance, being able to take and distribute force, being able to move my feet efficiently, all that comes with strength and speed in the body from the legs up. . . . “Those tests really opened my eyes about what I need to work on,” he said. “I’ve addressed these things with our strength and conditioning coach, so moving forward those are the things I’m going to work towards.”
With the right athletic training, combined with his great size and ever-improving skill set, Robinson’s ceiling could be at an elite level. This season, he is off to a fantastic start, appearing determined to make his mark at Fresno State and beyond.
- Nice form on his jumpers, and gets good lift for a big man; face-up shots are pretty
- A solid floor-spacer, who can knock down shots from distance (33.3 3P%)
- Can size-up bigger players and knock down mid-range shots if given space from his opponent
- Ranked at the 72nd percentile for PPP from midrange last season (17’ to 3-point line)
- Keeps his head up and makes impressive passes to his teammates, taking what the defense gives him
- Solid passer out of the post, typically patient when finding an open man for a three or cutting to the basket; including the results of passes, ranked at 59th percentile for PPP on post-ups last season
- An effective passer with either hand
- Gets to the line often (5.8 FTA last season) and knocks them down consistently (career FT% of 72).
- Sets solid screens, and ranked at the 66th percentile as a pick-and-roll scorer (rolls and pops)
- Shows surprising burst on simple drives, and flashes of being a decent ball-handler — may be able to expand his dribble-drive game
- A right hander who can finish with either hand; has a solid left-hand runner when attacking the rim
- Boxes out consistently and fights for rebounds; finished fourth in the MWV for total rebounding percentage (17.1)
- Plays with good effort, and finished last season at the 89th percentile for PPP allowed as an overall defender
- Has stamina, playing 31.9 minutes per game as a sophomore, which is very good for a big
- Needs to improve his athleticism in terms of verticality, speed, and quickness
- Does not finish well around the basket, even on open looks in the paint; as a sophomore, made just 49 percent of all his shots within seven feet, below the team average of 53.3 percent
- Shooting form is solid but needs to improve his consistency from deep (more repetitions)
- Does not like guarding the ball handler in the high pick and roll; tends to play drop coverage in these situations
- Lack of quickness and vertical pop prevent him from being an elite shot blocker; produced less than one block per game last season
- Sometimes goes nowhere in isolation situations; ranked at the 16th percentile for PPP as an ISO scorer as sophomore
- Tries to do too much with the ball at times; committed 3.1 turnovers per game last season
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements
- Stats used in our scouting reports come from Synergy Sports Technology, RealGM.com, and Sports-Reference.com. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source. Click here to see the statistical abbreviation key.
- Special thanks to Stephen Trembley, Director of Strategic Communications at Fresno State Athletics.