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Theo Pinson is UNC basketball’s x-factor

Whether on the court or off it, Theo Pinson brings a lot to the UNC basketball team.

Providence v UNC-Chapel Hill Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Theo Pinson averaged 4.5 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game, and 2.9 assists per game in 18.7 minutes per game while coming off the bench for North Carolina this past season. With the departure of Marcus Paige, the former North Carolina Mr. Basketball will be inserted into the starting lineup.

This year, Pinson finds himself in an interesting position, replacing one of UNC fans’ favorite players, Marcus Paige. But Theo doesn’t have big shoes to fill, because if Marcus Paige wore dress shoes, Theo Pinson is wearing crocs. Simply put, Pinson is a lot different than the player he is going to replace. Marcus was a business-first 6’2 shooter, while Theo is more of a prank-pulling 6’6 athletic slasher. Pinson doesn’t have to fight expectations of replacing anybody because he is unlike anybody. He is an enigma, and that is something every team needs.

So why is Theo North Carolina’s X-Factor? Well, the answer is two-fold. Off the court, Pinson brings a budding personality full of dancing, fun-natured quips, and humorous gags. Every team needs a Theo Pinson. The impact can’t be quantitatively measured, but every team longs for a guy who can take the pressure off of everyone else by just being himself.

It is such a unique quality that shouldn’t go overlooked. If it’s forced (I.e. Dwight Howard), people will say that they are attention-seeking divas. But what Theo possesses is so pure and easy that it’s hard not to like. Teams need this in order to succeed. The whole business-like approach doesn’t work, especially with college kids. Theo embodies the fun-loving college kid and it has helped take the edge off the team.

Case in point, the NCAA Final Four. The entire team could be strung up and tight playing on such a high stage for the first time in their careers. Luckily for North Carolina, they have Theo Pinson. Cracking jokes and making a mess of the mandatory media sessions, all while brandishing that thousand-watt smile.

On the court, Theo is a 6’6 lanky defender. He can cover passing lanes, causing havoc and creating deflections with his 6-10 wingspan, as well as utilize his speed and quickness to keep up with defenders. Theo possesses the ability to pass well and create for his teammates, as well as the ability to create his own shot by gashing through the lane and finishing at the hole.

When I see him play, I’m reminded of a more slender Draymond Green. Like Draymond, Theo is a Swiss Army Knife that has the ability to affect the outcome of games from different levels of the floor. With more playing time this year, look for Pinson to be a stat sheet stuffer-kind of player.

Pinson’s impact shows up in the win column as well. With Pinson inserted into the lineup his productivity should increase, which bodes well for Carolina, considering UNC is a perfect 24-0 when Pinson scores three or more points. At times last year Pinson was Carolina’s spark off the bench. Turning defense into offense and igniting runs that put teams away in a hurry. This year will be different for Pinson as he sees his role expand. It remains to be seen if he will/can bring that same energy for long spurts of time, but if he is anything like he was last year, he could be Carolina’s most important player on the floor.

Theo Pinson is many things: A first-year starter, UNC’s biggest prankster, a possible Draymond Green-like (minus the crotch kicking) versatile freak. Theo Pinson is all of these things. Theo Pinson is an X-Factor.