The Miami Heat have mastered the art of overcoming adversity. Despite getting less than 30 games each from Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the 30-17 Heat sit atop the Eastern Conference. The title contenders have even been able to push through Duncan Robinson only being present for half of the season.
For the record, Robinson hasn’t been injured. With 44 games under his belt, the fourth-year guard has appeared in more contests than anyone on Miami’s deep roster. However, the sharpshooter the Heat expected to have in every game is only showing up for half of his team’s matchups, with an imposter showing up the rest of the time.
Duncan Robinson’s numbers have taken a tumble this season
It seems like everyone on the Heat has over-delivered on expectations. From breakout stars like Tyler Herro to unsung role players like Omer Yurtseven, Miami is reaping the rewards of everyone on the team.
All except Robinson, that is.
The 27-year-old has served as Miami’s most-reliable 3-point shooter over the last two seasons. Robinson has hit a combined 42.7% of his threes from 2019 to 2021. As someone who gains his points almost entirely from threes, the 6-foot-7 guard averaged 13.3 points in that span.
However, Robinson’s overall numbers have dropped off in 2021-22. Entering Wednesday, the former Michigan Wolverine is hitting just 35.8% of his threes per game despite averaging a career-high 8.6 attempts. His poor shooting from beyond-the-arc was especially apparent during the first 20 games of the season, as he had more games below 30.0% from three (8) than games shooting 40.0% or better (7).
Robinson’s shooting has improved slightly since then, although his season-long line is still questionable. And when you consider the guard is in the first year of a five-year, $90 million extension, the Heat have cause for concern.
The Heat should consider playing Robinson more on the road
Up in the Big Apple, the Brooklyn Nets have a peculiar arrangement with Kyrie Irving. The famously-unvaccinated Irving is playing on a part-time basis, suiting up on the road but sitting at home due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.
Robinson becoming a part-time player would have nothing to do with his vaccination status. In this wild, hypothetical scenario, the inconsistent guard would only play meaningful minutes on the road while taking a backseat in South Beach.
We’re (mostly) kidding, by the way. But consider this:
In 23 road games, Robinson is shooting 42.2% from the field and 39.6% from three. Additionally, he has a 112.0 offensive rating and a +4.7 plus-minus.
On the flip side, in 21 games at FTX Arena, Robinson is only shooting 35.8% from the field and 31.2% from three, the lowest of anyone on the team with 10 or more games. He’s also registering a 99.0 offensive rating and a plus-minus of -0.7, the only Heat player with a negative at home.
Will head coach Erik Spoelstra heed our wise advice and reserve Robinson for games on the road? It’s doubtful. But the discrepancy is equal parts concerning and head-scratching.
Duncan Robinson could finally be turning a corner
Hope isn’t lost yet when it comes to the puzzling Robinson. Even though he’s lost playing time to rising performers like Max Strus, the road warrior is starting to find a more consistent stroke … and at home!
After going 0-of-8 from three against the Philadelphia 76ers, Robinson has collectively shot 16-of-34 in four games from beyond the arc. And three of those came in South Beach, where Robinson’s shooting helped lead to victories in each one.
His most-recent outing was especially encouraging. After going 5-of-10 on the road against the Atlanta Hawks, Robinson drilled six out of 11 3-point attempts against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. It was just the eighth time this year where he hit above 50.0% of his threes and third time at home.
Clearly, the Heat have been able to overcome Robinson being a sub-average player in half of his games. But if he can become the shooter they paid for last offseason, the Eastern Conference playoffs could run through Miami.
Whether Robinson would be happy about that remains to be seen.