The Miami Heat has emerged as one of the strongest teams in the NBA after a series of dominating performances during the first few weeks of the 2021-22 season, however, they’ve done so without their best three-point shooter, Duncan Robinson, making shots.
Robinson signed a five-year $90 million contract extension this summer, the biggest deal ever offered to an undrafted player in the NBA. In the past two seasons combined, only two other players have scored more threes than Robinson (520), Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard (545), and Sacramento Kings’ Buddy Hield (553).
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The 27-year-old sharpshooter, however, is in a slump. During the Heat’s 118-115 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, he went 1-for-5 on threes, dropping his season average from beyond the arc to 32.5%, per Hot Hot Hoops.
As Robinson’s numbers dip, there are rumors swirling on Twitter that Robinson may lose his role in the Heat’s starting lineup, possibly being replaced by guard Tyler Herro.
While Herro is having an absolutely stellar start to the season, scoring 192 points off the bench thus far, the 21-year-old guard is thriving as the team’s sixth man. Moving him to the starting lineup was a false move last season, and coming off the bench is a role in which Herro feels most comfortable.
“I think I have a definitive role as the sixth man,” Herro said. “Last year was kind of like some nights sixth, some nights ninth man. Now that I know I’m the sixth man, just the comfort in that role makes me want to keep going.”
As for Robinson’s shooting, NBA analyst Cooper Moorehead offered interesting insight behind his current slump:
Robinson’s personal handoffs are down from 8.8 to 6.0 per 100 possessions, a decrease of about 31%. With [Bam] Adebayo, his most common link for the past two seasons, those handoffs are down 7.9 to 3.9 per 100, over a 50% drop. Robinson is still running handoffs, but he’s getting them from Jimmy Butler and P.J. Tucker a little more often, while Kyle Lowry has taken over some of the usage with Adebayo.
This year, Robinson’s Shot Quality is 50.7, which puts him No. 138 of the 179 who have taken at least 20 threes (Tyler Herro is 171). Not a huge jump, just enough that he’s gone from taking literally the toughest shots in the league to just tough shots with some better opportunities mixed in.
Basically, Robinson is providing more than just three-pointers this season, and his stats don’t tell the full story. Not only is he helping space the floor, but he’s upped his defensive game, which has impressed Heat president Pat Riley.
“They know if you want to be on the court at the end, somewhere you have to show during the course of the season, my defense isn’t going to hurt me in the last (few) minutes,” Riley said, as reported by Sports Illustrated. “You need players like Duncan. He’s valuable.”
Robinson Is on Path to Break the Franchise Record of Most Consecutive Games With a 3-Pointer
If Robinson nails a three-pointer on Monday against the Denver Nuggets, he’ll break his own streak of 57 straight games with a three. If he can do it again against the Lakers on Wednesday, he’ll break the franchise record for most consecutive games with a three-pointer.
“The way I started this year is not up to what I know I’m capable of, Robinson said last week.
“You’re going to have stretches when you’re shooting the ball well and you’re going to have stretches when you’re shooting the ball poorly. So just trying to weather the storm in some respects. Just continue to push.”
Head Coach Erik Spoelstra Is Not Worried About Robinson’s Slump
Robinson was shooting 12-0f-43 on threes before briefly breaking out of his slump against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 30. During the Heat’s 129-103 road victory, the 6-foot-7 forward nailed 5-of-10 on threes.
“I never was concerned,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said during the postgame press conference. “As a shooter, you’re going to go through these stretches of the season and there will be a few of them in the season,
“I always remember Ray Allen talking about that, that he would have like a month-long stretch during the season no matter how much he worked, no matter how much he prepared, that the ball just wouldn’t go in to his standards. If you’re going to be a great shooter in this league, you have to have a quick memory.”