MIAMI – Brad Stevens knows a little something about going from the Division III basketball level to the NBA – just not quite in the same fashion as Miami Heat guard/forward Duncan Robinson.
“I don’t have any perspective from DIII to what he’s doing,” Stevens joked before Tuesday morning’s shootaround in Miami.
Stevens attended DePauw University and played four years for the Tigers before entering the coaching profession at Butler University and eventually taking the helm with the Boston Celtics.
That path is unique, but Robinson’s is even more improbable.
Robinson, who was born in Maine and grew up in New Hampshire, went from a Division III player at Williams College to an NBA player for the Heat in the span of six years. Now, in his second season in the NBA, Robinson is entrenched as a starter for the 32-14 Heat and ranks fifth in the league in made 3-pointers with 154.
He is currently in the midst of the hottest shooting stretch of his NBA career. Robinson has made at least four 3-pointers during each of his last six games, all while shooting 49.1 percent from long distance.
Stevens commented Tuesday that he hadn’t heard about Robinson until he transferred from Williams to Michigan during the summer of 2014, but he sure as heck knows about him now.
“Elite shooter,” the coach said. “Obviously, to get to that point where you have that type of touch, you have to be an elite worker, because the way that he runs off of screens – he does a great job of getting separation off the cut. He’s got a high motor. And then his release point is so high.”
Stevens then said that Robinson has a whole lot in common with many of the most dangerous shooters of all time.
“If you’re smaller and you’re behind a step, you don’t affect him,” said Stevens. “That’s what a lot of the great shooters – they can somehow keep you on their hip and get just enough of a glimpse at the rim. And then there’s a reason why (there are) only so many guys that are truly great shooters. But I think he’s – the run he’s on right now and the way he’s shot it for a long time, he’s in that category.”
Robinson’s meteoric rise from Division III player to NBA sharpshooter is tailor-made for a Hollywood script. However, Stevens didn’t seem all too surprised by the fact that Robinson has reached the heights he has reached during such a short period of time.
“Good players everywhere, and shooting is an ultimate skill. (There’s an) ultimate premium on the shooting,” he said. “I think that everybody can focus on the DIII thing as much as they want, but he was a great player at Michigan. He’s worked really hard to get where he is. He’s found a great fit.”
That might be an understatement. Robinson will be a primary target for Boston’s defense tonight, while he starts for the 42nd time out of 47 games this season. He will likely be flanked by star Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Meyers Leonard. The combination of Robinson’s and Herro’s shooting gives Butler, who will soon be elected to his fifth All-Star game, room to operate within a point-forward role. It also has helped Adebayo to reach All-Star-level form for the first time in his career.
There is no question as to whether or not Robinson is a big reason why the Heat are where they are, as the No. 2 seed in the East more than halfway through the season. He is one of their most important players.
No one would have predicted that to be the case six years ago, when he was a 185-pound freshman at a Division III college in Massachusetts.
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