Miami Heat: The devastating Bam Adebayo – Duncan Robinson pairing

Having barely shared the floor entering this season, the pairing of Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson has been a raging success for the Miami Heat.

It’s the dynamic duo that virtually no one saw coming. While he usurped Hassan Whiteside as the starting center of the Miami Heat a season ago, Bam Adebayo was still largely viewed as a work in progress. Having played 30-plus minutes just 23 times over his first two seasons, it was unclear how Adebayo would cope with the increase in workload.

But in averaging 34.4 minutes per game and earning his first All-Star selection, the 22-year-old has very quickly dispensed any doubts that may have been raised.

Then there is Duncan Robinson, fresh off his debut season in which he appeared in just 15 games as part of his two-way contract. Like Adebayo, few were certain as to how Robinson would fare this season, with his 28.2 percent clip from 3-point range this past preseason doing nothing to dispense those doubts.

But despite all of this, the Adebayo-Robinson pairing has rapidly proven itself as one of the most dynamic duos in the entire league. Overall, their 9.0 net rating over the course of the season ranks third in the league among 85 two-man lineups that have played at least 1200 minutes this season.

Additionally, this rating has ascended as the season progressed. From Jan. 24 which incorporated the final 24 games for the Miami Heat before the layoff, this duo’s 12.4 net rating led the league among 28 two-man lineups who played at least 500 minutes during this time. To put this in context, the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks have recorded a 10.7 net rating over the course of the entire 2019-20 season.

One of the keys to unlocking the potential of this pairing has been the gradual increase in the responsibility of each player. In the case of Adebayo, the utilization of his ball-handling and playmaking abilities has been profound. The following numbers illustrate just how much he’s earned the faith of head coach Erik Spoelstra and his staff: 54.8

Adebayo touches per game

  • Oct. 23 – Nov. 30 (18 games): 54.8
  • Dec. 1 – Mar. 11(47 games): 71.1

Adebayo drives per game

  • Oct. 23 – Nov. 30: 2.2
  • Dec. 1 – Mar. 11: 5.4

Tied in with this is how beneficial Robinson has been with Adebayo’s unleashing. As can be seen in the following tweet from Kirk Goldsberry of ESPN, this duo is far and away the most lethal combination when it comes to assisted 3-pointers.

In particular, the handoff has been one of the more deadly options with this pairing. For the 2019-20 season, Robinson and 15 other players have had at least 100 total handoff possessions, a list also featuring teammates Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic. Like the clip above suggests, the results have been devastating.

Handoff PPP (points per possession)

  • Robinson: 1.35 PPP
  • Next best: Bradley Beal: 1.02

Handoff Effective Field Goal Percentage

  • Robinson: 71.1 EFG percent
  • Next best: Andrew Wiggins: 55.5 EFG percent

Overall, Robinson for the season has shot at an outstanding 44.8 percent clip from long range on 8.4 attempts per game. His improvement over the course of these 65 games, like Adebayo, has been phenomenal. After averaging just 19.6 minutes per game over the opening five games of the season, Robinson averaged a whopping 36.6 minutes per contest over the final five games, with 52.6 percent return on 11.4 attempts per game indicative of his impact.

So on the brink of the exhibition hit-outs commencing, the further unleashing of this unlikely but scintillating duo in this new and uncertain environment will be one of the absolute keys to the Miami Heat bringing out their best in the NBA Restart.