Duncan Robinson: D3 to NBA Sharpshooter

It wasn’t too long ago that Duncan Robinson was a freshman at Division III Williams College in Massachusetts. A late bloomer in high school, Robinson received very little interest from Division I schools and opted to attend the Division III college known for its strong liberal arts education and basketball prowess. During the 2013-2014 basketball season, Robinson averaged 17.1 PPG behind lights-out shooting, including 55.7% from the field and a scorching hot 45.3% from beyond the arc. Williams reached the NCAA DIII championship game before losing a heartbreaker to Wisconsin-Whitewater. At the end of the season, Robinson was named the New England Small College Athletic Conference’s rookie of the year as well as the NCAA All-Tournament Team. After a successful first season, Robinson decided to explore bigger opportunities and eventually received a full scholarship offer from John Beilein at the University of Michigan.

After sitting out a year per NCAA regulations, Robinson got off to a hot start in his sophomore season at Michigan, scoring 19 points in his second game without missing a shot. He ended up starting 27 of the 36 games that season, averaging 11.2 PPG and shooting 45% from three. After quite a successful first year at Michigan, Robinson took somewhat of a step back in his junior year, only starting three of the 38 Michigan games during the 2016-2017 season. While his team enjoyed great success—winning the Big Ten Tournament and then reaching the Sweet 16—Robinson only averaged 7.7 PPG while his three-point percentage dropped slightly from 45% to 42.4%. His overall field goal percentage, however, climbed from 45.7% to 47% as a result of his improved shooting from two-point range. His senior season was mostly more of the same for Duncan, as he found his way in and out of the starting lineup on a dominant Michigan team that reached the NCAA Tournament championship game before losing to Villanova. During the 2017-2018 season, he averaged 9.2 PPG, while his three-point percentage fell to 38.4%. His minutes did increase, however, from his junior season, increasing from 20.1 MPG to 25.8 MPG.

Duncan Robinson at the University of Michigan, image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgoblog/39079447455/

After a mostly successful but also up and down college career, Duncan Robinson went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft and eventually signed a Summer League deal with the Miami Heat. Because of his strong shooting performance during his five Summer League games, the Heat offered Robinson a two-way contract, giving him the opportunity to play with both their G-League and NBA teams. Robinson spent the 2018-2019 NBA season between Sioux Falls and Miami. He played in 15 total games for the Heat, averaging 3.3 PPG in 10.7 MPG, though he did not shoot particularly well—Robinson only shot 39.1% from the floor and 28.6% from beyond the arc. Heading into this season, however, the team felt confident about his potential to succeed in the league and were ultimately proven correct. He has put forth a fantastic season thus far, averaging 29.8 MPG and starting 58 of the 63 Heat games this year. He has also averaged 13.1 PPG while shooting 46.8% from the field and 90% from the free throw line. The big storyline—one that has recently made a lot of headlines—has been his incredible three-point shooting. Robinson has made 44.9% of his three-point attempts while attempting 8.2 threes a game. He even represented his team in the three-point contest over All Star Weekend. His numbers represent a huge jump from last season—when he made only 10 total threes—to this one—in which he has made 233 threes so far. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the 223 three-point field goal increase from one season to the next is currently tied with George McCloud for the greatest increase in NBA history! Not too shabby for a player who began his college career at a Division III school.

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