April 19, 2024


Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra Professes ‘Love’ for Orlando Robinson

Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat

When the Miami Heat signed Thomas Bryant as a free agent this offseason, it appeared that he would be a strong option to give the team much-needed frontcourt depth behind incumbents Bam Adebayo and Kevin Love. And that was true for the first two weeks of the season. But in recent days, it has been clear that new Erik Spoelstra favorite Orlando Robinson has made a claim to the role and won’t be relinquishing it.

Bryant has played 51 minutes over the last 14 games, with nine DNPs and just five appearances. Robinson, in his last three games (with Adebayo out because of a hip injury), has played 27.5 minutes per game, and averaged 12.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He has played with the hustle and determination that has earned him the job.

“Orlando, you just have to—he makes you absolutely respect his fortitude and his grit,” Spoelstra told reporters this week. “He is relentless with his work, with his approach, with his commitment to earn trust from everybody. He does it with a competitive spirit. He gets better each month.

“He goes to school on everything. If he makes a mistake in any kind of game, he gets to work with film, with Malik (Allen, assistant coach) and then he wants to drill it, 10,000 times. Which is what we love.”

Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra Values Hustle

It helps Orlando Robinson considerably that the Miami Heat inked him as an undrafted free agent last summer, and he has spent a full year developing in the Erik Spoelstra system. That is an immediate advantage over Bryant, though it took a month-and-a-half for Robinson to truly get his chance.

Heat insider Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel wrote in his mailbag this week that Robinson’s experience as a member of the team and his willingness to play with energy have separated him.

“What we are seeing now is a player two seasons into the Heat system, a player who appreciates how it needs to be done. That is a built-in advantage that Orlando has over Thomas Bryant, who still is attempting to adjust to the Heat’s way of doing things,” Winderman wrote. As I mentioned during the game, what Orlando Robinson has started showing is that he is willing to compensate for his athletic limitations with hustle and perseverance.”

Orlando Robinson’s Shooting a Big Boost

When he came out of college from Fresno, one of the knocks on Orlando Robinson was that he was too much an old-school big man who played with his back to the basket and was neither an athlete nor a shooter. He’s done something about that last issue this year. As a rookie, Robinson tried 10 shots beyond 10 feet from the rim, and missed all 10 of them. This year, he is 6-for-11 on those shots, and all six makes have been 3-pointers.

As for athleticism, he can’t really do much to change that. But he can change his hustle quotient and, as Winderman noted, that is the key to maintaining a spot in Spo’s rotation.

“From here forward it is simple: Do things the way Erik Spoelstra requires and he is the third big body, if needed, behind Bam Adebayo and Kevin Love. But that also means doing just that, staying within the system while playing with the highest motor possible,” he wrote.

Sean Deveney is a veteran sports reporter covering the NBA and NFL for Heavy.com. He has written for Heavy since 2019 and has more than two decades of experience covering the NBA, including 17 years as the lead NBA reporter for the Sporting News. Deveney is the author of 7 nonfiction books, including “Fun City,” “Before Wrigley became Wrigley,” and “Facing Michael Jordan.” More about Sean Deveney

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