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How Duncan Robinson went from looking for jobs in media to the NBA Finals

Duncan-Robinson

When Duncan Robinson went undrafted, nobody was surprised. Robinson was a proven shooter - throughout his three-season at Michigan, he scored 237 threes (42.1%), making him the 4th best three-point shooter in Michigan’s history. But despite the NBA gravitating towards shooters, Robinson was not deemed good enough for the pros. 

Sounds ridiculous after seeing him light the NBA on fire and being a core piece of Miami’s revival. How does a 6’8” sharpshooter doesn’t get drafted, at least in the second round? Duncan probably thought the same thing, but understanding he’s not projected to get drafted, Robinson started searching for other avenues of employment. Just three years ago, he texted Mark Titus, who was at The Ringer at the time, asking about advice on getting into media. 

It is insane to think that instead of playing in the Finals, Robinson could’ve easily been writing takes and talking about games on a podcast. So how did he end up in Miami? Two things. The first step was not giving up - after going undrafted, Duncan stayed ready and pushed his luck. Then the second ingredient in all these stories happened - luck. 

Chet Kammerer is the Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations/Basketball. To translate into English, Kammerer is one of the best scouts in the NBA and works directly with Riley, Elisburg, and Spoelstra. He has a lifetime of experience and a proven eye for talent. Kammerer said Duncan Robinson had one of the best shooting workouts he had ever seen. 

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And so Duncan Robinson was having this workout, and Chet Kammerer (Miami Heat Senior Advisor Of Basketball Operations/Basketball) just decides to drive over there. In fact, I think the story goes, if I’m not mistaken, he was stuck in traffic and worried he was going to be late or something. Something like that happened.

And so he walks in there and apparently, Duncan Robinson puts on one of the greatest shooting displays that Chet Kammerer has ever seen. And this is an old school, battle-hardened scout, alright.

He doesn’t overreact to things. And he gets out in the parking lot and calls up Andy Elisburg (Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations/General Manager), the Heat’s general manager, and was like, ‘We have got to get Duncan Robinson, I don’t care whatever else we do in this draft. GET ME DUNCAN ROBINSON!’

Brian Windhorst, Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective

Kammerer was so impressed with Robinson he also called Spoelstra immediately after the workout to tell him about the workout. Spo said Kammerer talked about Robinson in such high regard that he almost dropped his phone. 

Because if Chet Kammerer says it, it’s going to make you pay attention. I asked him, ‘Chet, are you sure that’s what you’re saying because you’ve seen 50 years of shooters and been in a ton of gyms, and I’ve never gotten a phone call like this from you?’ He said, ‘Yes. I don’t know if he’s good enough. I don’t know if he will develop. But as far as shooting, that part is really unique and he has got a great ethic. He’s also 6-8.’”

Erik Spoelstra

To make the story crazier, this was the first time Robinson worked out in front of an NBA team. This is where the Heat organization comes in. Robinson was signed and played for their G-League team. Before he got called up, Robinson had a monster game in the G-League. But, there was a play in which he didn’t dive for a 50-50 ball.

After that game, the coaches didn’t praise him for the fantastic performance, but let him know they noticed he didn’t go for the 50-50. When he got invited to join the Heat, the first warm-up drill he was doing before an NBA game was a coach throwing balls around, Robinson diving for them, quickly getting up and shooting. 

Kammerer spots them, the coaching staff develops them, and Spo puts them in a position to succeed. That’s why you pay Pat Riley the big bucks. 

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