Making sense of Duncan Robinson’s slow start to the 2021-22 NBA season

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Despite having arguably his best game of the season against the Utah Jazz on Saturday, Duncan Robinson still hasn’t had the best start to the 2021-22 campaign.

The Miami Heat sharpshooter is only connecting on 35.0 percent of his shots from the field and 33.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

He isn’t playing up to the standard that many have come to expect of him. During the past two seasons, the 27-year-old shot 42.7 percent from 3-point range.

The Heat are surely hoping that Robinson can get back to his old self very soon. When his shots are falling, he’s able to really open up Miami’s offense.

However, that just has not been happening often this season. Should fans be worried? Has the Heat’s best shooter lost his touch?

Here’s a breakdown of Robinson’s slow start to the campaign.

Pressure from his new deal?

Last offseason, Robinson re-signed with the Heat on a five-year, $90 million deal, the largest ever for an undrafted player in the NBA.

The pressure of having to live up to the expectations of this deal could definitely be getting to Robinson. After making around $1.7 million last season, he is making just about $15.6 million this season. That’s obviously a considerable increase.

There were many people that wondered whether the Heat had given Robinson too large of a contract. Those are valid concerns, but one has to take into account that shooting comes at a premium in today’s NBA.

Elite shooters are paid top dollar because of what they are able to bring to the offense. With players like Robinson, it’s not just about making shots. While of course that is the most important part of their games, they can also be used as decoys to open up other parts of the offense. Even though the University of Michigan product is struggling, teams still have to account for him and his ability to get hot from deep at any moment.

In wake of Robinson’s struggles, many have compared him to two other shooters that got paid handsomely in recent years: Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans and Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris.

Here’s a comparison of their numbers after they signed their respective deals.

Robinson's numbers are obviously much lower than those of Harris and Bertans, but it's very early on in the season.

Solid shooters like Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry have also seen their percentages from deep decrease. Robinson has made enough shots throughout his career to earn a little patience from everyone.

How bad are his misses?

One good thing about the four-year pro's misses is that they really haven't been bad ones. He isn't completely missing the rim.

Obviously, fans want him to make every single shot he takes, but they should feel confident that his touch could basically come back at any moment. If he was completely off on his shots, then there would be a different conversation to be had.

Despite his struggles, Robinson is still getting lots of good looks. With his length and frame, he can get off most of his shots without any problem. He's also shown an ability to constantly adjust his release to be quicker if need be.

It's important for him to continue getting these types of good looks. He just needs some to start going in. Once a couple of them start falling down, the floodgates will open.

A move to the bench?

Many fans have been clamoring for Robinson to be moved to the bench in favor of Tyler Herro. That likely wouldn't be the best idea.

If Herro gets moved into the starting lineup for Robinson, the Heat's bench unit would then be left without a real creator on offense.

This season, Herro has shown an improved ability to create for himself and others. He has been flourishing in his role during the 2021-22 campaign. This season, the University of Kentucky product's usage is 28.1 percent, which is up from 23.5 percent from last season. While he would likely perform well as a starter, his services seem to be most valuable right now coming off the bench.

Robinson is at his best when others are handling the ball and able to find him in open spots. Starting alongside Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo allows Robinson to focus solely on getting open.

He will get continue to get his open looks with the starting unit. Lowry, Butler and Adebayo will make sure they find him in the right spots. They know how much Robinson can bring to this squad. Moving Robinson to the bench would hurt his value to the team.

What's being said

Many people within the Heat organization have chimed in on Robinson's struggles. It's no surprise that everyone is behind him.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has "no doubt" that he will come around.

Lowry is hoping to give Robinson the confidence he needs to break out of this slump.

Herro also came to the defense of his teammate.

As for Robinson himself, he's very confident in his own ability to get it going. It's a very good sign that he hasn't lost confidence in himself.

“Obviously, I’ve had a little bit of a slow start shooting the ball,” Robinson said. “Zero doubt in my mind, and I hope zero doubt in your mind as well, that the tides will turn here very soon.”

His performance on Saturday is a perfect step in the right direction moving forward. Despite having a rough outing in back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, Robinson was still confident enough to keep shooting. He even pulled up from pretty deep in the first quarter.

Robinson hasn't forgotten how to shoot. He's way too good of a shooter to just somehow magically lose his touch for good. Shooters go through slumps sometimes, and Robinson happens to be going through one to start the season.

A rough patch at the start of the campaign shouldn't force fans to turn on him like some have been doing. He's going to figure it out sooner rather than later.

Making 6-of-11 3-pointers against the Jazz could be just what Robinson needs to move himself forward. He is one of the best shooters in the league, and there is a reason why the Heat paid so much money to retain him.

People have a right to be worried about his play, but if Saturday was any indication, Robinson is ready to break out of this rough stretch and get back to doing what he does best: constantly make 3-pointers.

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David is a Miami native and University of Maryland graduate with experience in writing, editing and video production. He is a proud contributor of Heat Nation.