This Miami Heat X-factor deserves to start

With Terry Rozier going down with injury, it has paved the way for Duncan Robinson to return to the Miami Heat's starting lineup -- and he has not disappointed.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Miami Heat
Minnesota Timberwolves v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Duncan Robinson has had an underrated career as a member of the Miami Heat. Through ups and downs, the one thing that will never change is he owns the franchise record for the most made 3-pointers. After seeing himself outside of the rotation most of last season due to shooting struggles and inconsistencies on both sides of the ball, Robinson was resurrected come playoff time. 

Once Miami lost both guards Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo to season-ending injuries early in the first round, Robinson had an opportunity on the NBA’s biggest stage to prove himself and get a regular rotation role back. He wound up providing pivotal bench minutes through Miami’s improbable Finals run, while also showcasing the development in his all-around game. That performance has carried over into this, his sixth season.

Numbers don't lie, and they show Duncan Robinson should be playing more minutes alongside Jimmy Butler and the other Miami Heat starters.

Going into 2023-2024, the Heat’s roster changes have benefited Robinson on the depth chart. The team lost Gabe Vincent and Max Strus in free agency and traded Oladipo. Those three, when healthy, were all playing ahead of Robinson last season. Now he has an everyday role again and has shown that his 2023 playoff run was no fluke.

Robinson went from being a 3-point specialist with limited defensive abilities to a guy who can not only still shoot the lights out, but also put the ball on the floor and make plays for himself and others. He's also been able to hold his own on defense.

Heat fans have had the privilege of watching Robinson grow into a guy who can now attack the basket and finish at the rim -- whether that includes his floaters or strong drives. His passing has improved, which opens the offense to set up teammates.

In the Heat's last two wins on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers before the All-Star break, Robinson started alongside Herro in the backcourt and the duo looked sharp together. Each one's skillset complemented the other's, with Robinson filling it up on the offensive end with back-to-back 20-plus point outings.

Robinson has appeared in 50 games for the Heat this season (starting 19). The Heat are:

  • 10-0 when Duncan Robinson scores at least 20 points
  • 13-1 when scoring at least 18 points
  • 14-5 when starting

For coach Erik Spoelstra, these are stats you can’t ignore. Robinson gets more touches and time when he starts and the stats show that he could be more than just insurance as a regular bench player. His shooting ability creates incomparable space for the starting unit, and he has grown a legitimate on-court connection with Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Herro over the years.

Almost every one of his season stats has improved -- some drastically -- since last season. He most notably went from 6.4 points per game on 37.1% shooting from the field and 32.8% from 3-point range to 13.3 points on 45.9% shooting from the field and 41.2% from deep.

Good things happen when Robinson gets more minutes playing with the starters. Several stats prove he could be Miami's biggest X-factor.