Duncan Robinson’s Offensive Evolution: Shot Profile & Role Changes

After a disappointing campaign last year in which his usage plummeted, Duncan Robinson has bounced back dramatically. He is currently averaging career highs in points, field goal attempts, assists, and three-point efficiency. Although red-hot shooting has certainly been a factor, Robinson’s transformed shot profile and increased role versatility are the driving forces behind his revival.

Duncan Robinson’s Shot Profile Changes

Since Robinson entered the league, he has exclusively thrived as a catch-and-shoot inferno that occasionally attacked the basket via backdoor cuts or in transition. It was rare to see Robinson in the paint or creating for himself off-the-dribble, as the chart below depicts.

Duncan Robinson Shot Profile

From 2020 to 2023, only about ten to fifteen percent of Robinson’s field goal attempts came from within ten feet of the basket. However, it has doubled to roughly thirty percent this season – a massive spike. For context, that figure is on par with well-rounded three-point shooters like Trey Murphy III, Michael Porter Jr, and Cameron Johnson.

In addition, Robinson’s baskets are through self-created looks at a much higher rate this season. He does not need clean looks spoonfed to him anymore, which significantly increases the value of having the ball in his hands. The chart below portrays his increased on-ball usage this season.

Duncan Robinson Usage

Roughly sixteen percent of Robinson’s possessions are as a pick-and-roll ball handler, which is more than double his previous usage. Robinson’s drives per game have soared too, and teammates are reaping the rewards of his increased court vision and patience. Other small forwards across the league with a sixteen assist percentage include Jaylen Brown, Mikal Bridges, and Kawhi Leonard.

Robinson’s ability to handle the ball and create advantages for himself and others has defenders in a bind. If they don’t run him off the three-point line, then his 44.9 3PT% will swiftly punish them. However, closing out too hard allows him to cut or drive and either finish around the basket or make a quick-decision pass to a shooter or cutter. Essentially, Robinson’s revamped on-ball skills completely enhance his offensive threats.

Duncan Robinson’s Offensive Versatility

When a defender navigated the screen on a dribble handoff and stuck to him, it usually caused Robinson to pass to the top of the key and reset. In the following clip though, he displays his renovated on-ball skills.

When Robinson turns the corner, Devin Vassell is close behind with Malaki Branham ready to swipe at the ball. Recognizing the initial threat (Branham), Robinson changes his pace for a second, thus forcing Branham to step towards the arc in an attempt to deter the catch-and-shoot three. Now that the help is gone, Robinson accelerates into a pull-up floater, which shakes a surprised Vassell.

Robinson did not previously have this ability to consistently manipulate, separate, and convert, but opponents must now worry about this sequence whenever he enters a dribble handoff. It makes him far more difficult to guard simply because he has far more options to pursue.

In addition, Robinson’s increased playmaking and court vision boosts a Miami offense that ranks sixth in cut frequency. His processing speed is noticeably faster, as portrayed by the following clip.

Robinson’s three-point reputation and knack for utilizing screens causes Cam Johnson to aggressively step out and anticipate a dribble towards Adebayo. Noticing this imbalance and flat-footed defender, Robinson floors the gas pedal and manages to get the edge. When a ball handler drives baseline, the first read is typically to the shooter in the corner. However, it’s a risky pass here with Lonnie Walker IV potentially able to jump the passing lane in time. Instead, Robinson absolutely threads the needle to a cutting Jaquez Jr despite five Brooklyn defenders sitting in the paint.

That is such a great read by Robinson and perfectly captures his offensive growth. The versatility both on and off-ball truly has Robinson soaring, so it’s unsurprising that he currently ranks 47th across the NBA in the trusted all-around advanced stat Offensive EPM (per Dunks & Threes).

Overall, Robinson’s impressive offensive development is a large reason behind Miami’s 18-12 record. If he continues this play against playoff defenses, then look out because the Heat are coming.

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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