Denver Nuggets: How would Duncan Robinson fit?

How would Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat fit with the Denver Nuggets? (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
How would Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat fit with the Denver Nuggets? (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
How would Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat fit with the Denver Nuggets? (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
How would Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat fit with the Denver Nuggets? (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Miami Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson is prioritizing comfort, money, and a chance to win in his upcoming free agency according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Do the Denver Nuggets have what it takes to sign him away?

This is the first time anyone has heard of Robinson wanting to be on another team as he enters free agency for the first time in his career. It comes right after the team was swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs.

Robinson is currently on the end of a minimum contract that was converted from a two-way deal in late 2020. In NBA terms, that’s not a lot of money so he’d be foolish not to cash in on his talents this free agency period.

Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN told NBA Countdown that Robinson could get in the $20 million range on the open market:

"“This could be a $20 million a year player. Remember, teams are going to put out an offer sheet out there that they hope that Miami won’t match. It’s going to be difficult to pry him from Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra.”"

Making it difficult is the guard’s restricted status, meaning any offer he signs with another team can be matched by the Miami Heat. On the other side of the coin, by picking up Andre Igoudala and Goran Dragic’s team options, the Heat will already have north of $112 million on their books before resigning Victor Oladipo, Kendrick Nunn, and Robinson.

There’s reason to believe a confident team with the cash at their disposal can steal him away.

Denver Nuggets: How does Duncan Robinson fit on the court?

Coming into the league late through Miami’s G-League team, Duncan Robinson is already 27 years old and a developed talent. That talent is extremely refined despite his lack of NBA years and it already includes one trip to the NBA Finals in 2020.

Robinson does one thing and he does it exceedingly well. Last season he shot over 40 percent from 3-point range on 8.5 attempts per game. He stretches the defense, doesn’t stop running on offense, and Erik Spolestra has even spiced things up, using him as a screener in some actions.

The Sun-Sentinel report stressed fit as a key criteria for choosing a new destination and the shooter should ensure he ends up on an established team with refined playmakers.

Robinson is in the 100th percentile in terms of shots taken from behind the arc but he’s in the sixth percentile at the rim per Cleaning the Glass. It’s quite amazing really that he can remain so effective from 3-point range despite being so one dimensional. The defense knows exactly what he’s trying to do and he still gets what he wants.

Another key stat is that out of all of his 3-point attempts, he’s assisted on 97 percent of them. That’s an improvement from the 100 percent the year prior.

Speaking of established playmakers, the Denver Nuggets employ one Nikola Jokic who might be the best passer of our generation. Jokic clearly excels with shooters operating with or around him and we saw how devastating an elite shooter can be in the 2020 NBA playoffs as Jamal Murray found openings in the defense around Jokic and punished teams for it.

Even while not directly operating with a scorer, Jokic can find the open man while blindfolded and it’d be exciting so see how many open opportunities Duncan can get just running off the ball.

And then from there, Robinson makes his teammates better with his elite shooting. When he’s on the court, his team shoots much better at the rim and from the mid-range per Cleaning the Glass.

As he told Tim Reynolds: “My best basketball is ahead of me”.

Is that “best basketball” on the Miami Heat? On the Denver Nuggets? Or on another team?

Denver Nuggets: How would the money work with Duncan Robinson?

While the Heat might run into some issues retaining Duncan Robinson, the Denver Nuggets will hardly find it easy to create enough space as well. Let’s assume he’s willing to sign for slightly less than that $20 million magic number Woj reported.

There’s almost no world in which Will Barton’s number fits if Robinson is on the roster so the first decision would be to decline his $14.9 million player option. That would bring the Nuggets roughly $20.6 million below the luxury tax threshold, bingo!

Not exactly, the Nuggets would likely want to bring back Paul Millsap and JaVale McGee, the former who was just on a flat $10 million per year deal.

The next best way to save money would be to find a home for JaMychal Green’s $7.6 million guaranteed for next season, possibly opening up room for a Millsap resigning too. But then the team is giving up vital depth, especially since Green is a solid bench piece for this Nuggets team.

So then you ask the front office if they’re willing to dip into the luxury tax. But with Jamal Murray on the sidelines most of the next season after his ACL injury, the Nuggets aren’t title contenders. Does ownership want to pay a premium for a team who’s title chances heavily rest on a guy wearing street clothes? Maybe not this year, maybe the following when Jamal should be getting back to 100 percent.

Ownership also hasn’t shown a willingness to pay the tax thus far and the team has made a number of moves to dodge the tax including trading Kenneth Faried and not going above Detroit’s number for Jerami Grant.

What makes it harder is the fact that doing nothing, waiting a year for Jamal to recover is a fine alternative. The issue is, what if there isn’t a Duncan Robinson type of player on the free agency market next season?

One in the hand might be better than two in the bush. Maybe Tim Connolly and the Nuggets brass believe there’s another roster upgrade to be had the following free agency but with Aaron Gordon up for an extension then, things might get even tighter.

"“First and foremost, the fit, a place where I can really feel comfortable. Winning is obviously a priority for me, as well. And then, of course, it’s also a business and there’s an opportunity to make money to take care of people that I love the most. So that’s also a priority, as well,” Robinson told the Sun-Sentinel.“So any place that can offer all of those is a destination that I would be excited about.”"

Denver can offer all three.

Next. Five takeaways from the 2020-21 season. dark