The Heat X Factor For 2021-22 NBA Season, And It’s Not Jimmy Butler Or Kyle Lowry
The Miami Heat loaded up in the offseason. They signed and traded for Kyle Lowry and strengthened their defense after acquiring PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris. They are arguably the third-best team in the Eastern Conference, and with a coach like Erik Spoelstra, there’s no question that this season is going to be exciting for the South Beach franchise.
Last season, they went through a series of injuries and lost players to COVID-19 protocols. They were also one of the few teams who had a shortened offseason, so that significantly impacted their run. This 2021-22, the Heat will see a healthy and rested Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Lowry to form one of the best trios in the league.
But besides the three, a role player that can be huge for the Heat is Duncan Robinson. The 3-point specialist, who just signed a lucrative extension with the Heat, shot 40.8 percent from long distance last season. He has established himself as one of the best shooters in the NBA and has slowly become the biggest threat for Miami from long distance.
The whole Heat Nation is ready to see Duncan Robinson light up our opponents in the new NBA season 👌 pic.twitter.com/MC0GX81Ro2
— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCP) September 5, 2021
Robinson has the most 3-pointers by an undrafted player in NBA history. In 2020-21, he also became the Heat player with the most long-range bombs in a season after having the third-highest 3-point percentage in league history. When Robinson is making his triples at a high rate, the Miami offense becomes almost unstoppable. He can play off-ball, let his defenders chase him, and even draw fouls from beyond the arc.
Highest 3P% in NBA history on 5+ attempts per game:
43.3% — Steph Curry
42.3% — Duncan Robinson
Robinson signs the largest contract ever for an undrafted player. pic.twitter.com/4Yx7ZQOhK2
— StatMuse (@statmuse) August 2, 2021
Now, with Lowry on board, Robinson’s 3-point shooting becomes even more important. It gives Butler another option to pass to when he drives. It gives Adebayo an alternative when he posts up. Robinson can roam around the floor to confuse the defenders and prevent them from focusing too much on the Heat’s All-Stars.
Duncan Robinson has improved on defense 🔒 pic.twitter.com/CS1PiRvlAH
— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCom) September 7, 2021
So the key for Duncan Robinson to have a good season (besides his shooting) is really his defense. That’s how Spoelstra can leave him in the game and avoid getting picked on. It’ll also remove the pressure on Butler and the Heat defense, especially if Robinson can keep up on that end.
If Robinson continues his hot shooting from last season and puts up a fight physically on defense, then the Heat will be extra good.
When Robinson is on the floor and making his shots, how will the defense focus on a motivated Butler, Lowry and Adebayo? Not to mention guys like Tucker and Morris can knock down their own shots as well, so leaving them wide open and letting the defense gamble for any of those players will be a tough ask for the opponents. There’s a good chance Spoelstra finds a way to always put Robinson in the best position to succeed.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Robinson keeps up his hot shooting as well. There have been many instances in the NBA where a player’s best 3-point shooting season eventually becomes an outlier. Hopefully for the Heat, Duncan Robinson not only maintains his hot shooting but also improves on it because he’s their X-factor this 2021-22.