The Whiteboard: Duncan Robinson catches fire, Carmelo Anthony retires

Apr 6, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) inspects the ball before a game against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 6, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) inspects the ball before a game against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Carmelo Anthony officially retired, setting off a nonsensical Hall-of-Fame debate. Also, Duncan Robinson is knocking down 3s again as the Heat keep rolling.

The five-year, $90 million contract Duncan Robinson signed after the 2020-21 season looked like an overpay at the time. In the nearly two years since, it morphed into one of the worst contracts in the entire league.

But, among all the other surprising developments in this Heat run, Robinson appears to have rediscovered his stroke and resurrected a significant amount of his utility and value.

What happened to Duncan Robinson?

Robinson went undrafted out of Michigan and caught on with Heat on a two-way contract, carving out a role for himself as one of the best spot-up and off-movement shooters in the league. At the time he signed that five-year deal, he had just come off two seasons as a full-time starter, hitting 42.7 percent of more than 8.4 3-point attempts per game.

In the first year of his new deal, his 3-point percentage fell to 37.2 percent. This season, he made just 32.8 percent from beyond the arc, lost his starting spot and saw his role in the Heat’s rotation and offense shrink dramatically. In March and April, he appeared in just 11 games, for a total of 141 minutes, hitting 14-of-39 (35.9 percent) from beyond the arc.

And then the playoffs started.

The Heat needed Robinson’s size against Milwaukee and he played in all five games, averaging just over 20 minutes and hitting 14-of-19 from beyond the arc. He struggled mightily against the Knicks (12-of-42 on 3s, 28.6 percent) but he’s now 8-of-15 against the Celtics. Oh, and along the way he became the Heat’s all-time leader in postseason 3s.

Put that together and it’s a 14-game stretch where he’s hitting 44.7 percent from beyond the arc and an even more impressive 25-of-49 (51.0 percent on open and wide-open 3s). Some of his most recent makes against the Celtics have come in garbage time, but look at this clip — in both his confidence in taking this shot and his cathartic reaction when it goes in, I’m seeing a player who feels different.

The Heat’s offense is humming right now but at least part of their success is coming from players shooting way over their career track records. That kind of performance is very susceptible to regression to the mean and it could strike at any time. In the case of Robinson, we have a potential antidote for the Heat, a player who has demonstrated he can perform at this level but who has been struggling all season long.

If Robinson really is shaking off the rust, it’s a huge swing in the Heat’s favor.

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Is Carmelo Anthony a Hall-of-Famer?

I can’t believe this is even a question or a legitimate conversation but, yes, he’s absolutely a Hall-of-Famer and should be inducted as soon as he’s eligible. Reasonable people can disagree about what his hypothetical ceiling was and the ways in which he may have felt short of expectations throughout his career. But you can’t argue with what he accomplished.

He’s a 10-time All-Star and a six-time All-NBA selection. He’s 11th on the all-time scoring list and lead the league in scoring in 2012-13. In addition to points, he retires on the top 30 on the all-time list for 3-pointers, free throws and total minutes played. He won a National Championship and Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four as a freshman. He won three Olympic gold medals and is the second all-time leading scorer for Team USA in Olympic competitions. Remember, there is no NBA Hall of Fame, and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame recognizes the totality of a player’s contributions to the game.

Yes, Anthony was a disappointing defender. Yes, he playoff record leaves plenty to be desired and yes, his failure to adapt until much later in this career was intensely frustrating. But he was one of the greatest scorers in NBA history and won plenty, even if he never won a ring.

Basketball-Reference’s Hall-of-Fame Probability model gives him a 98.4 percent chance of being inducted — on par with Steve Nash, George Gervin, Dominique Wilkins and Bob McAdoo. Yes, he is a Hall-of-Famer.

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