ASK IRA: Has Duncan Robinson re-emerged as essential for Heat?

Q: From my armchair coaching view, it looks like Duncan Robinson has regained his old form and then some. It’s a shame that Heat fans only look at his salary and not see the overall improvement in his game. If he continues to produce off the bench like he has, his salary will look like a bargain in today’s inflated NBA. – Greg, Jacksonville.

A: I’m not sure that “bargain” is how I would phrase it, but the current play certainly would move him closer to a value contract. With the Heat’s second unit starved for scoring, as Josh Richardson regains his legs and Jaime Jaquez Jr. learns the league, Duncan Robinson’s offense has been essential. When Caleb Martin returns from his knee issue, that also will help balance that unit defensively and ease the burden on that end for Duncan.

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Q: Dru Smith has disappeared from the Heat rotation and preseason breakout star Jamal Cain has yet to see action. I believe Cain’s size and athleticism can offer a dimension to the Heat that they desperately need. Did the Heat make a mistake in giving the fourteenth roster spot to Smith? Could playing time for Cain, perhaps taking minutes away from an inconsistent Josh Richardson, give the team a needed boost? – Ron, Margate.

A: If you have to look that deep down the rotation for salvation, then you’re probably in trouble regardless. And to bail on Josh Richardson at this stage would be way premature. But if the Heat planned to play Josh so much at point guard, and also planned to have Tyler Herro handle as much, then it is surprising they made such a substantial guarantee to Dru Smith. I’m still not sold that Dru makes it to or past midseason on his standard deal. As for Jamal Cain, as long as Haywood Highsmith is in the rotation, it limits his path to playing time.

Q: Do you think that these two road trips coming up are actually an opportunity, with only middle-of-the-pack and losing teams on the schedule? The Heat could come out of it in fairly good shape, with a bunch of home games to follow. – Morgan, New Orleans.

A: The part I would agree with is that this is about surviving until the schedule evens out. But I wouldn’t sell short the competition against the Hawks, Nets, Bulls, Cavaliers and Knicks. They probably are looking at the Heat as soft spots on their home schedules. The Heat at the moment are not in position to be taking anyone lightly.