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Jeremiah Robinson-Earl: An Accessory to Success

A look at what makes Jeremiah Robinson-Earl an intriguing forward prospect and a potential long-term piece for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

After being selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, also known as JRE, has quickly become a fan favorite in Oklahoma City after averaging 7.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and one assist in about 22 minutes. He also shot the ball decently well for a rookie, recording 41.4% from the field, 35.2% from three, and 74.1% from the free throw line.

But sometimes it is easy to forget that the 6-foot-8, 242-pound forward is a rookie; he’s perhaps a bit older and more experienced than some of the other players that the Thunder have drafted in recent history. That presented itself on the court. Although the Villanova product hasn't produced the most impressive numbers in his first year, he still made an impact in ways that do not always show up in the box score.

The 6-foot-8, 242-pound forward, manning both frontcourt positions, displayed a great understanding of the game that showed up on both sides of the basketball court. And that paired well with starters Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, and Josh Giddey. Whether it was transitioning from a smooth hand-off into a solid screen to free up a shot, or finding the perfect time and space to cut for easy baskets, Robinson-Earl is adept at making himself available and creating advantages for teammates without needing the ball.

He pays attention to the little things, too. When shots go up, the big-bodied roleplayer is always jockeying for position, doing his best Steven Adams impersonation, and scrapping and fighting for rebounds. He’s patiently waiting for the right moment to lift out to the corner so as to keep his defenders on their toes, and ultimately provide better spacing. And while Robinson-Earl doesn’t receive a ton of touches, when he does get the ball, he’s making quick decisions. He’s not holding the ball; he’s keeping the rock moving and getting others involved.

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Defensively, he’s very disciplined. He’s not the athlete some others are, but he relies on good fundamentals, an excellent understanding of positioning, and a strong frame. While he’s probably not going to be the next Draymond Green or Serge Ibaka, Robinson-Earl can raise a team’s defensive floor due to his ability to communicate, diagnose offensive actions, and make the correct rotations again and again.

With new, fresh opportunities abound in the 2022-23 season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl has a chance to cement himself both as a starter and a foundational piece for the team moving forward. Every team needs that one player they can trust to play unselfishly alongside their stars, limit mistakes, and just be an accessory to success if you will. And JRE certainly has the potential to be exactly that and more.

But before the Kansas City native gets comfortable in Tulsa, there are a few areas where he will need to show consistency and improvement. After converting just 52.5% of his attempts at the rim and making only 33.3% of his jump shots, it is necessary that Robinson-Earl continue to develop and improve both his overall shot selection and finishing prowess to earn his place within the Oklahoma City Thunder organization as a long-term contributor.

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