Heat summer league coach Eric Glass on Tyler Herro
Duncan Robinson is out to prove he’s more than just a three-point shooter.
The Heat is hoping to see more of an all-around player this summer after Robinson spent a year in the organization’s developmental system.
While his three-point shooting is the skill that first earned the Heat’s attention when it signed Robinson to a two-way contract last summer as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan, it’s the growth in other areas of his game that will determine if he earns a spot on the Heat’s 15-man roster this year.
So far, so good.
The 25-year-old Robinson put together another solid all-around performance in the Heat’s 93-81 win over the Jazz on Sunday at the Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus in the Las Vegas summer league. He finished with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 2-of-7 shooting on threes to go with 10 rebounds.
“It’s not lost on me that what I’m here for is to shoot and make shots,” Robinson said. “But I try to just do other things, little things here and there to make winning plays on both sides of the ball. So I’ve definitely grown in that area. I have a ways to go, but that’s what summer league and these opportunities are all about.”
Like his double-double performance Sunday, with the help of 10 rebounds.
“I’m not necessarily going to get rebounds above the rim with some of those bigger guys,” Robinson said. “But just using my court savvy and my basketball IQ and kind of see where the ball is coming off and track it that way. That’s something they’ve really, really emphasized with me.”
At 6-8, Robinson has also focused on adding weight over the past year to become a more sturdy defender against bigger players. He’s added 14 pounds since last summer and is now at 210.
“It really starts with knowing what to do, principles and schematically,” Robinson said of the process of becoming an improved defender. “Just really having a good understanding of that. The game just kind of slowed down a lot for me, which is great. I feel like I improved my body a lot, speed and quickness. It’s a combination of that. I’m still where I need to be, but I’m making positive strides, I feel.”
Among the other things the Heat wants to see from Robinson this summer: that he can keep defenses off balance with the dribble and make plays for his teammates, and that he’s improved as a rebounder. The Heat has given Robinson a goal of grabbing at least six rebounds per game during summer league.
“He’s going to have to be,” Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said of the need for Robinson to develop other areas of his offensive game to go with his outside shooting. “They’re playing him really tight. He’s going to have to put the ball on the floor and create for his teammates or for himself. If he’s just a catch-and-shoot guy, good defenses are just going to wipe him out. So that’s been a big emphasis for him.”
Robinson is on a partially guaranteed $1.4 million standard contract for 2019-20, with $250,000 already guaranteed. The guarantee will increase to $1 million if he is not waived by July 15.
As one of the Heat’s two-way contract players last season, Robinson averaged 21.4 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the field and 48.3 percent shooting on threes, 4.3 rebounds and three assists in 33 games for the Skyforce.
“I just want to keep showing my growth as a player,” Robinson said. “I feel like I’m far from a finished product.”
▪ Even though the acquisition of 2019 second-round pick Stanford forward KZ Okpala became official Saturday, the Heat chose to hold Okpala out of the first summer league game he was eligible to play in Sunday. He’s now missed the Heat’s first five summer games. Okpala’s next chance to play is Tuesday against the Magic.
The Heat has at least three Las Vegas summer games remaining to play and up to five if it advances deep into the tournament.
“These guys are trained killers right now from nine days of going at it,” Glass said of getting Okpala ready to play in summer league games. “He’s not on their level yet. ... It would be unfair to him.”
But the Heat did announce the signing of Okpala. He signed a three-year, $4.2 million minimum salary-deal, with the Heat using a portion of its mid-level exception on the contract, according to a league source. All three years of the contract are guaranteed, which will pay him about $898,000 in the first season, about $1.5 million in the second season and about $1.8 million in the third season.
“It’s unbelievable,” Okpala said of signing his first NBA deal. “It’s a dream come true. It’s everything I’ve always wanted. I’m just excited. It’s just a rush.”
Herro, who finished Sunday’s win with 16 points while shooting 7-of-18 from the field and 1-of-8 on threes, seven rebounds and five assists, remained unsigned. Unsigned draft picks can be traded immediately. Once a draft pick signs, they can’t be traded until 30 days from the date of signing.
The Heat now has 13 players under contract: Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, Meyers Leonard, Bam Adebayo, Derrick Jones Jr., Yante Maten, Kendrick Nunn, Robinson and Okpala. Herro would become the 14th once he signs.
▪ Nunn, who is on a partially guaranteed contract with the Heat, finished with 22 points and eight assists.
▪ Among those in attendance for Sunday’s game were general manager Andy Elisburg, coach Erik Spoelstra, Adebayo, Jones, Leonard, Olynyk and Waiters.
▪ Next up for the Heat is a Tuesday’s game against the Magic at 4 p.m. It will mark the third of Miami’s four opening-round games in Las Vegas. After finishing the Sacramento summer league with a 3-0 record earlier this week, the Heat owns a perfect 5-0 summer league record this year.