Duncan Robinson’s three-point shooting percentage is down, but the volume of three-point shots he’s getting up hasn’t changed.
The Miami Heat views that as an encouraging sign of growth and an important step in Robinson’s development.
“You look at all the best shooters in the league, they have nights,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Robinson ahead of Sunday night’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers at FTX Arena. “Just go down the list, they have nights and you have to have that kind of resolve and determination to just continue to play your game. I think that’s probably where he has made the most adjustments in his short career.
“Three years ago when we first met him, if he missed his first three, there’s no way he was shooting another one as a rookie two-way. Then two years ago, if he would have missed three in a row, it would have taken a lot of cajoling from [assistant coach Chris Quinn] and the rest of the staff to get him to keep on launching.”
Instead, Robinson keeps getting shots up whether he’s making them or not. That’s exactly what the Heat wants.
After shooting 40.8 percent on 8.5 three-point attempts per game last season, Robinson entered Sunday shooting 35.2 percent on 8.5 three-point attempts per game this season. He still hopes to get that percentage up to around 40 percent this season, but he reached this point of consistency and resiliency by learning how to “curate what you listen to and what has access to you,” especially during shooting slumps.
“I’ve taken some steps in my life to just kind of keep the main thing the main thing and just lock in on what’s most important, which is obviously this group and helping them win games,” Robinson said. “It’s obviously a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I’ve been eager to embrace. I think I’ve grown a lot throughout it. Certainly there have been stretches where it hasn’t been easy, but at the same time that’s kind of where the growth happens. In those moments in between.”
There weren’t many extended shooting slumps in the previous two seasons before Robinson signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the Heat as a free agent this past offseason.
In the previous two regular seasons combined, only Sacramento’s Buddy Hield (553) and Portland’s Damian Lillard (545) totaled more made threes than Robinson (520). This includes the 2019-20 campaign when Robinson set the Heat record for threes made (270) in a season while also joining Golden State’s Stephen Curry as the only two players in league history to finish a season with 270 or more made threes while shooting better than 44 percent from deep.
“People panic every time he doesn’t have an amazing game, he doesn’t make every shot,” Heat guard Tyler Herro said of Robinson. “But the thing about Duncan is he comes in every day with the same attitude, whether he has 26 or if he has five points. He’s going to come in no matter what the next day and he’s going to treat every day the same. Get his work in and just continue to go about his business how he does. That’s what I really respect about him.”
The latest example of Robinson’s resilience came in Friday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks, when he totaled 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting on threes in the fourth quarter after scoring seven points on 1-of-5 shooting on threes in the first three quarters. He also had shot just 8 of 33 (24.2 percent) from three-point range in the five games before Friday’s contest.
“It will always be noisy, particularly for three-point shooters,” Spoelstra said. “Everybody just hangs on every make or miss. At the end of the day, his percentage will be up there where it is.”
While the Heat has been five points per 100 possessions better when Robinson hasn’t been on the court this season, that wasn’t the case in the previous two seasons. Miami was 6.3 points better per 100 possessions last season and an incredible 12.5 points per 100 possessions better in 2019-20 with Robinson playing.
The Heat still believes its best version features an aggressive Robinson making threes.
“I feel like his main job is to shoot threes and not think about if you go 8 for 16 or 0 for 16,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said. “That’s the job. That’s what we want and need of him to do every single night. Be aggressive.”
IT’S A PROCESS
Sunday marks Heat center Bam Adebayo’s fourth game since returning from a seven-week absence after undergoing surgery on a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb.
“I’m happy to be out there, honestly,” Adebayo said at the end of his first week back. “Those seven weeks were very long to me, considering I’m somebody who has never been injured for that long of a period of time.”
Adebayo noted that he’s still working on getting his conditioning back to a pre-injury level. He averaged 18.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, two steals and 1.7 blocks in his first three games since making his return.
“There’s nothing like five on five live in the middle of fans,” Adebayo said. “But doing the little stuff off the court has kept me in great shape.”
The Heat ruled out Herro (health and safety protocols), Kyle Lowry (personal reasons), Markieff Morris (return to competition reconditioning), KZ Okpala (wrist sprain) and Victor Oladipo (knee injury recovery) for Sunday’s contest. It marks the fourth straight game that Lowry has missed because of personal reasons.
The Lakers are without Anthony Davis (sprained MCL in left knee) Sekou Doumbouya (health and safety protocols), Mason Jones (G League assignment) and Kendrick Nunn (right knee bone bruise) against Miami.