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Roby (is Good)

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When I try to think of a player comp for Roby, I keep coming back to Kawhi Leonard.  Kawhi is 6'7", 230lbs with a 7'3" wingspan.  Roby is 6'8", 230 lbs with a 7'3" wingspan.  Kawhi also registered a 32.5" verticle (surprisingly low to me) while I think Roby's is much higher than that.  On the flip side, Kawhi has freakishly huge hands and while Roby appears to have very large hands, I am not sure is in full freak mode like Kawhi.

 

What makes Kawhi so special is his athleticism combined with his wingspan and great anticipation and quick hands.  I see so much of these same attributes in Roby.  Roby is excellent at getting deflections and being disruptive on defense.  Obviously Kawhi has elite athleticism, but when I watch Roby and the way he is able to move his feet at his size and to move laterally as well as straight away when defending.  He can cover so much ground so quickly can really wreak havoc on the defensive end.

 

As for his shooting, Roby's efficiency numbers were off the charts last year, but they were on a very low volume and most likely unsustainable.  Nonetheless, it is clear that Roby should be much, much more of a focal point in the offensive scheme this year.  Roby's efficiency is so much better than Palmer's its not even comparable and I feel Roby is just beginning to tap his potential on that end.  

 

Royalfan, I hear what you are saying about Roby needing to prove his efficiency on the offensive end with higher volume to be a lottery pick, but take a look at Kawhi's numbers out of college (San Diego State) where he shot an abysmal 32% on catch and shoot jumpers and 28% on pull-up jumpers.  Kawhi did average more points per game, but on much higher usage rates.   Roby is a far better shooter in college than Kawhi ever was and i think he has good shooting form right now.  Kawhi relentlessly worked on his shooting form after college and remarkably has turned himself into one of the better jump shooters and 3 point shooters in the league and it is impossible to speculate if Roby can do that.  But if we are comparing where they both were at the same point in their college careers there is little doubt Roby had the better stroke in his sophmore year than Kawhi (Kawhi only played 2 years at San Diego St.).  Roby needs to tighten his handle in traffic, but he has shown promise with his dribbling and passing, especially for a 6'8" player.  

 

When healthy, Kawhi is a top 5 player in the league (and maybe higher), so I am not saying that Roby is that or will ever be that.  But Roby's profile is similar enough that it does make one wonder if he might just be the steal of the draft if he does fall out of the lottery as most project that he will.  It is also why I feel (and have felt and been vocal about) that Roby has been vastly underutilized during his 2 years here and I am hoping that changes significantly this year.  Palmer is good, but he shot under 31% on 3s last year.  Roby can be a 3-level scorer, was by far the most efficient scorer last year, and should be put in position and given every opportunity to score this year.

Edited by NUdiehard

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NUdiehard, I know you give a great deal of thought to your posts and I don't always think things through as carefully as you do. I respect the fact that you think pretty deeply about stuff before you post. Having said that, I have some responses:

 

1.  JPJ was about 36% from three until the Wisconsin game and kind of went ice cold from three for the rest of the season. But through 2/3 of the year, he was shooting pretty solid numbers. The only way to get out of a slump is to shoot your way out of it. And even when Palmer was not shooting as well, he was still getting to the line, so it justified having the ball in his hands.

 

2.  You say Isaiah was was vastly underutilized the last 2 years but your basis for that is his efficiency as a sophomore. Presuming that Isaiah's efficiency last year justifies a higher usage rate, then it necessarily follows that his lack of efficiency as a freshman would have justified less utilization.  He more than doubled his 3-pt % from freshman to sophomore years.  But, as a freshman, he only shot 20% from three.

 

3.  Part of Isaiah's efficiency might have been due to the lack of utilization, and an increase in use might very well have resulted in a decrease in efficiency. In other words, it's probable that Isaiah was cherry picking the very best looks and only taking those while passing up other looks that might have been tougher looks but which he'd have to take in order to increase his usage rate. It's a fallacy to think his efficiency is linear with his usage rate.

 

Take a look at Evan Taylor, for example.  He led the team in 3-pt % last year at around 44%.  But he hardly ever shot the ball. I think he had 16 makes on the year. Why not use him more?  Well, it's almost certain if he'd taken more shots he'd have missed more shots. He was not a guy you wanted to take more shots than he did.  I note you're not arguing he should have.  I think Evan picked his spots pretty carefully and that accounted for his success rate.  And he was smart, he knew his limits.  His 3-pt efficiency was a chimera. It disappears if he shoots the ball more.  Which brings me to ...

 

4.  Isaiah didn't have a scorer's mentality for his first year and 3/4.  It's not that he was underutilized. It's that he didn't trust himself to carry a scoring load.  He wasn't looking for his offense.  And that was fine last year because we had other guys to carry the load and Isaiah had the luxury of being able to be very selective about his shots.  One of the things that Isaiah has talked about this year is that, because of his ability, Miles has told him it's actually selfish for Isaiah to pass up shots and not look for his offense. His team depends on him to carry more of an offensive load -- everyone has a role and that's going to be his -- and so he understands he needs to be looking for his shot more.  I think you're going to see an Isaiah Roby who steps up to that role this year.  It's not that the coaches held him back or that the system did.  But Isaiah will have more opportunities this year and I expect to see his utilization rate go up significantly.

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Norm,  all of your points are fair.  I actually agree that Roby's efficiency most like would have gone down with a higher usage rate.  But I still think his efficiency would have been tops on the team even with a much higher usage rate, and I feel if he is healthy and on his game this year, the same will hold true.  

 

One thing in talking about Roby's low usage rate is not only his lack of shooting per minutes on the floor, but for me, a huge frustration last year was him limited minutes actually playing for so much of the season.  Roby ended the season averaging only 24 minutes per game.  For the first half of the season (until Jordy quit and came back), Roby was averaging about 19 minutes per game.  I said it then and I will say it again now, that is absurd!  For those who know me on this board, you will know that I was making this same argument in real time early in the season last year (and to be fair there were many others on this board or felt strongly that Roby should be starting over Jordy).  Imagine if Jordy had never quit, would Roby have ever been inserted into the starting lineup?  Something so painfully obvious and beneficial to the team should not take so long to be discovered by its head coach.  I can't find the game by game statistics off-hand, but I am quite certain that in the 2nd half of the year, as Roby's minutes went up he continued to be the most efficient player on the floor on average.

 

As to basing his usage last year on his freshman year, all I can see is it was apparent to my naked eye from the first game that Roby was a much stronger, much more polished player right from the start of his sophomore year.   I would have to imagine this would be visible to Miles as well since he sees him everyday in practice and in games.  Plus, efficiency is much more than just 3 point percentage.  Roby's unique profile allows him to get off midrange shots and drives to the basket that few players can and he was extremely efficient in those areas all year last year.  I have to believe this was pretty evident in practice as well.

 

The speech Miles gave Roby this summer frustrates me.  Not because it is wrong, but because it is a year too late.  That same speech should have been given to Roby last summer before his sophomore year.  Yes, Roby was (and always has been) reluctant to shoot the ball.  But we have all watched the games and seen how Roby was handled, right?  Again, if one were to go back to Roby's freshman year, I was expressing my frustration with Miles constantly yelling at Roby and pulling him out of the game for every little mistake while other players seemed to be allowed to get away with much more sloppy play.  Miles continued to do this early in the season last year.  In one game, Miles went ballistic and yanked Roby for getting called for an illegal screen when replays clearly showed he didn't touch anybody and that two Minnesota players ran into each other.  l Is there any wonder Roby was reluctant to be aggressive and take chances?  Roby by nature is reluctant.  Yelling and having a fit every time he makes a mistake is not the way to boost his confidence and encourage him to take chances and be aggressive.  Roby was probably worried if he missed a shot he would be yanked--and he was probably right!  I went to every single game.  I rarely rarely saw sets which were designed around Roby (at least not until the very end of the season).  Roby should have been made the focal point much earlier and much more often.  I hope to see that this year.  

 

For what its worth, my goal is not to be hyper-critical of Miles.  I have never advocated for Miles to be fired and I was fully supportive of him coming back this year.  In fact, I think Moose should have given him a longer contract and am not thrilled with how he is being handled.  But that doesn't mean I won't call it the way I see it on particular players or issues.  And I am sure others will disagree (I imagine Dean has a response waiting for me :)

 

As a long-suffering Husker Hoops fans, each year we just hope to see something special.  Something to make it all worth it.  That can be in the form of a successful record, but also being able to watch a special player.  Since first signing Roby I felt he had that something special.  I watched a video of him dunking from the free throw line in a HS dunk contest.  There are only 10 or so players in the entire NBA who can do that!  Guys like Roby come around about once every 20 years at NU, and here MIles was benching him and constantly taking him out of games and yelling at him.  I just didn't get it and still don't get it.  I am hopeful that will change this year, but Miles is going to have to make it clear to guys like Palmer that he doesn't need to shoot 15-20 times each game.  

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How do you know that same speech wasn't given to Roby last year?

 

Or something similar to it?

 

I have reason to believe he's been getting encouragement to look to attack more and not pass up open looks for quite some time.  I think Isaiah and the people close to him would say that he needed to develop more of a scorers mentality and I think -- and I believe people on here who are close to him would agree -- that it started clicking more for him toward the end of last season. In fact, one such person has recently pointed to the Michigan game in the Big Ten tourney as the moment things really clicked for Isaiah and he realized he can take on a scoring role.

 

By the way, you can look back at the threads. I believe I was one of the first lasts year to openly state I think Roby needed to be starting.  I think I was saying it as early as game 3 last year. If memory serves me, I think I even started a thread about it.

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16 minutes ago, Huskerpapa said:

 

Great article.  Not just platitudes from Zay, but some real thoughtful comments.   Reminds of us of how much has happened with the program since Zay showed up.  The drama may not be over, but I'm really hoping for personal and team success for this great guy. 

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ESPN top 100 Draft rankings came out yesterday.  Roby at #33.  Palmer #68.  Copeland did not make top 100.

 

ESPN Top 100

 

Sam  Vecenie of the Athletic came out with his 2019 NBA Draft Big Board and Roby listed at #47 and Palmer at #55.  Copeland did not make top 100.

Edited by NUdiehard

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