Nasir Robinson is the key to Pitt’s zone offense
In Pitt’s win over Rider, they faced a Rider team that played nearly exclusively zone defense. By scoring 86 points in 62 possessions, Pitt attained an offensive efficiency of 139.6. Thanks to Statsheet’s advanced box scores, we can see that Pitt had a 176.5 offensive rating when Nasir Robinson was on the floor yesterday. Comparatively, Dante Taylor, Khem Birch and Talib Zanna had offensive ratings of 101.7, 132.6 and 116.9. This starts to show how important Robinson is to the zone offense of Pitt. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Robinson shredded the zone defense to the tune of 22 points on 9-10 shooting from the field with 4 assists. He showed he is comfortable sitting in the middle of the zone and being the player that handles the ball in the vulnerable parts of the zone. The prime spots for a big man in a zone are the high post and the baseline. Robinson showed he is comfortable in each spot on the floor as he was able to both score himself and set his teammates up from these spots. Robinson is always probing the defense to get to an area where he can receive the ball, rotating from the high post to the baseline to find the open spots in the zone.
When he does receive the ball, he has the ability to create his own shot and one for his teammates. You can see this in both videos below, which demonstrate his offensive proficiency against the zone. He can take an efficient dribble or two to get to the rim or he can find an open teammate for a three point shot.
When Robinson is not in the game, Pitt struggles because their guards are not comfortable giving the ball to the trio of Dante Taylor, Talib Zanna or Khem Birch. This leads to Pitt passing the ball around the perimeter before they jack up a three point shot. Pitt is much more efficient on offense when they get the ball to the middle and let their big man create. This can lead to a layup inside or an open jump shot when their big men kick the ball out. When they don’t enter the ball to the middle, they settle for contested three point shots which results in bad possessions for Pitt.
Robinson is the best offensive big man for the Panthers and he is the key to Pitt beating a zone defense. When he is on the court, the guards look to him to infiltrate the zone and get easy shots, both inside and outside. When he is on the bench, the guards are more hesitant to feed the ball inside, which leads to easy possessions for the defense.