Big Contract & ‘High Standards’: Heat Shooter ‘Wrestles’ With Struggles

Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat

Getty Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat

Duncan Robinson is arguably the best movement shooter in the NBA, and the Miami Heat know it.

Why else would they have signed the fourth-year wing to a five-year $90 million deal, with his average annual value rising each year. In the modern NBA, shooting comes at a premium, and if you can shoot off movement (curling off screens or catching directly off a cut), your skillset will always ensure the cheques keep rolling in.

However, since signing his extension in Miami, Robinson has struggled to replicate the shooting form that made him a fearsome scorer. Shooting just 33.7% on 8.6 attempts per night is not the sort of return on investment the Heat’s front office envisioned when they extended the contract offer during the summer.

When speaking to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Robinson touched on his current mentality and how he’s dealing with the recent downswing in shooting form.

“I hold myself to a high standard, and I expect to perform at a high level. I’ve grown a lot this year. I’ve gone through different stretches kind of learning how to wrestle with different things. It’s definitely a learning experience,” Robinson said, “Of course, if the ball is not going in, it’s on your mind. But I’m not staying up all night thinking about it. I try to compartmentalize the best I can.”

Of course, over the last two years, Robinson has sat comfortably among the league’s best marksmen, averaging 42.7% from deep over his previous two seasons. With such a smooth shooting stroke and evident scoring pedigree, it makes sense that Robinson trusts his work ethic, knowing the ball will start to fall sooner or later.

Robinson Isn’t the Only Shooter Struggling

Robinson isn’t the only sharpshooter struggling this season, and many believe part of the problem is the new Wilson ball the NBA has adopted this year. Bradley Beal, usually a certified bucket, is currently averaging 27.1% from deep, which is 10% lower than his career average.

We’ve also seen the Boston Celtics‘ Jayson Tatum wrestle with his scoring daemons; Brandon Ingram has also regressed as a shooter, as have numerous other budding and established stars around the league.

When speaking to Jackson about the NBA’s new ball, Robinson noted that everybody has the same adjustment to make. “I just think, like any sort of adjustment, there’s a little bit of a break-in period. It’s a level playing field. Everyone is playing with the same ball.”

In truth, Robinson is right. Sure, there are a plethora of NBA stars who are currently experiencing inexplicable troubles while shooting the ball. But, there’s also the Steph Curry’s of the world who have adapted quickly and continue to punish defenders for sagging off or going under on screens.

Robinson Holds Himself to a High Standard

Whenever people discuss the Miami Heat, one of the first phrases to leave their mouth is “Heat Culture,” where every player is defined by their work ethic and the level of accountability to which they hold themselves.

Robinson, a Heat “lifer,” is no different, which was evident when he discussed his current shooting slump with Jackson. “That’s kind of how I operate. I hold myself to a high standard, and I expect to perform at a high level. I’ve grown a lot this year. I’ve gone through different stretches kind of learning how to wrestle with different things. It’s definitely a learning experience.”

Whether the ball is part of the problem, or the expectations linked to signing such a loft contract are weighing on his shoulders, the common consensus is that Robinson will return to the mean. The Heat, who currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, will welcome Robinson returning to form with open arms, especially considering as the franchise went all-in on their current roster with the belief that they’re capable of adding another banner to the rafters.

Robinson has recently shown some signs of life with his shooting form, on December 11, he went 5-of-9 from deep against the Chicago Bulls, which topped a five game stretch of amazing shooting from deep. However, the New Hampshire native followed those games up with a stinker, as he shot just 14.3% from deep in a December 13 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, per Basketball-Reference.

Robinson will be looking to improve his success from range again on Saturday, December 18, when the Heat face off against the Orlando Magic.

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