The praise for Heat summer league forward Duncan Robinson keeps pouring in.
Monday, 2017 first-round pick Bam Adebayo compared the 6-8, 215-pound shooter out of Michigan to someone who just set the Heat’s franchise record for three-pointers in a season.
“It's like playing with Wayne [Ellington],” Adebayo responded when asked what it’s been like to play alongside Robinson in a handful of games. “He’s been developing this mentality where it’s like no pump fakes — just let it go. He’s benefiting from it. So, every time I go to duck inside, I expect him to shoot it every time. Every time I hand it off, just shoot it Duncan. Just playing with him, he reminds me of Wayne so much, just in a different body.”
Robinson, who is playing for the Heat this summer but is free to sign a contract with any team during summer league, has put up some phenomenal shooting numbers in five games. He’s made 17 of his 28 three-point attempts (60.7 percent), shot 57.8 percent over from the field and averaged 12.4 points, 2.4 rebounds while also compiling three steals and two blocks.
Chet Kammerer, the Heat’s vice president of player personnel and lead scout, said Sunday coach Erik Spoelstra put a premium on finding a shooter in summer league.
Robinson, though, has impressed the Heat because he’s also shown the ability to do other things. He dunked twice on drives to the basket, showing the kind of athleticism he wasn’t necessarily known for in college.
“He made a runner [in Sacramento] and he made a runner here [that impressed],” Kammerer said Sunday. “You look for other things. The more diverse his game is, it’s helpful for him. Still, the key is for him to make shots. That’s why he is valued as a player is his ability to stroke the ball and the fact that he’s not 6-3. You like guys who are a little longer and you like that.”
Ellington, who set an NBA record for three-pointers off the bench and was a central focus of Miami’s dribble-handoff offense, remains a player the Heat would like to bring back. But the Heat is trying to move salary on its roster to avoid the league’s $123 million luxury tax line. Miami also had three-point specialist Luke Babbitt on the roster last season. He also remains a free agent.
DERRICK JONES JR. UPDATE
Derrick Jones Jr., who needed help from the Heat’s training staff Sunday to walk off the court when he sprained his right ankle, has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game against the Utah Jazz at 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU). The Heat still hasn’t officially ruled him out for a return in summer league.
Jones, 21, signed a two-year deal with Miami last week to join the 15-man roster and has shined throughout the summer. He said Tuesday the swelling and pain in his ankle was not as bad as he initially thought it would be.
“It’s not bad at all,” he said of the swelling. “I feel like the pain was just there because it was probably my first time rolling this ankle. But I feel better and I feel good.”
Jones played one season at UNLV before leaving college and signing as an undrafted rookie with the Phoenix Suns. While he would like to return and play again in summer league, he’s not going to push it.
“At the end of the day it’s only summer league,” he said. “The bigger picture is the regular season. That’s what I’m worried about. If I get back for summer league, then I do. If not, then you know, I just don’t.”
Jones said playing for the Heat has made him work harder than he ever has in his career – and he appreciates it.
“They hold you to a higher standard…,” Jones said. “It’s like everybody in the organization is working hard. So you don’t want to be that one guy that’s singled out. ‘He’s just in here BS’ing it and going half-ass. I want to be the one that they say ‘Yeah, he’s in here every day, he’s working hard.He wants to be better.’ That’s the player I planned on being. That’s the player I am now.”
The Heat signed Jones Jr. to a two-way contract last December after releasing Matt Williams Jr. He played in 14 games and helped the Heat to key road wins in Toronto and Indiana with excellent defense and athleticism. His focus this summer has been improving his shooting touch and becoming a more complete player.
“To me I should have held myself [with some] accountability when I was in Phoenix,” Jones Jr. said. “But I was a young kid, fresh out of college. I just had turned 19 years old. It’s something that I should have done. I’m doing it now.
“Everybody has that moment if you get waived or cut from a team. What did I do wrong or what can I do better? How can I make myself better for the next team so I can stick with that team? I realized I had to work harder. I feel like I’m one of the hardest working players on the team. I’m going to keep it going until whenever my [playing days are] done. I want to be able to feel like I worked my tail off every day, never took any days off.”