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Miami's Duncan Robinson on a record path from 3-point land

Second-year guard already took down franchise record, NBA marks next target

MIAMI — Duncan Robinson is about to collect a whole slew of records.

Most 3-pointers by any player in either of his first two NBA seasons. Most 3-pointers by a Miami Heat player in a season. And he’s already tied the league record for most 3-pointers by an undrafted player in a season.

He’s not just going to break them. He might smash them. There are 20 games left in the season, and Robinson is up to 225 3-pointers — the most recent nine coming in Miami’s 116-113 win over Orlando on Wednesday night, a game in which he made seven in a row to end the first half.

“If you took a poll on NBA players and asked who Duncan Robinson was coming into training camp, I would say probably 70% of the league didn’t know who he was,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Robinson wasn’t offended. If anything, he thinks his coach is low-balling that 70% estimate.

“I would probably say more than that,” Robinson said. “But no, no, that doesn’t bother me. You’ve got to expect that. The path that I’ve taken is a little unconventional, but hopefully at this point I’ve garnered some respect in that regard.”

The Heat record, perhaps just until Friday when Miami plays at New Orleans, belongs to Wayne Ellington; he made 227 in the 2017-18 season. Kyle Korver has the mark for a player in his second NBA season; he made 226 in the 2004-05 campaign. And the undrafted-player record had been held by Damon Jones, who made 225 for Miami in 2004-05.

It also bears noting that Robinson was unaware of the Heat record; he asked Wednesday night after the game what it was. So it’s not like he’s been chasing the mark.

“It’s not a surprise,” Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo said of Robinson’s success. “When you see a guy do that over and over and over and his preparation and practice and when he’s in there by himself with the coaches, it doesn’t shock you.”

Robinson is two behind Ellington, one behind Korver and is tied with Jones. At his current pace, and if he plays in all of Miami’s 20 remaining games, he would finish with 298 3-pointers — a total that, in NBA history, only Golden State’s Stephen Curry (three times) and Houston’s James Harden (once) have reached.

But in this 3-point-mad NBA, a league that is on pace to smash the single-season 3-point record for an eighth consecutive year, shooters are the lifeblood. And the Heat came into this season touting Robinson — who got most of his minutes last year in the G League — as one of the best shooters on the planet.

I just went an entire game and I didn’t take a 2. That was unheard of.

Duncan Robinson

They weren’t kidding.

“Some of it is the times,” Robinson said. “I just went an entire game and I didn’t take a 2. That was unheard of years ago. There’s some inflation there, for sure. But that’s not to deflect credit. I’ve had a good shooting season. But it’s the times. And I am aware that I might not have existed as an NBA player in 2005 or 2010, even. It’s all pretty humbling.”

Robinson’s path is remarkable: No Division I scholarship offers out of high school led him toward playing his freshman season at Division III Williams College in Massachusetts, before Michigan brought him aboard for his final three collegiate seasons. He’s the only player to appear in the Division I and Division III national championship games.

He went undrafted in 2018, signed a summer-league deal with the Heat and made 17 of his first 27 3-pointers. That was all Miami needed to see, and he’s been with the Heat ever since. He appeared in only 15 NBA games last season (making only 10 3’s), and now he’s a starter on a team on pace to win 53 games this season.

Plus, he might even be a legitimate candidate for Most Improved Player.

“I think it’s really a remarkable story of persistence and how much he’s improved,” Spoelstra said. “It’s incredible.”