In the Miami Heat’s game at the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night, Erik Spoelstra started Max Strus and played both Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro off the bench. (Both Strus and Robinson returned from health-and-safety protocols.) And Strus made seven 3s on his way to a game-high 25 points to give Miami a much-needed win.
can confirm the Strus was in fact loose tonight pic.twitter.com/PhWExgx2Yh— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 6, 2022
Strus’ strong performance Wednesday night — and his dramatic improvement from last season — has led some to wonder if Max Strus should take Robinson’s starting job next to Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler. The Heat podcast 5 on the Floor discussed it on its most recent episode.
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote last week that Strus has been a better player than Robinson this season. It’s easy to see why O’Connor would say that. Strus is shooting 41.4 percent on 6.2 3-point attempts per game; Robinson is shooting 35.2 percent on 8.5 attempts. Moreover, Strus is the more athletic offensive player, able to drive to the basket more easily than Robinson can.
Still, O’Connor noted that this hot shooting from the former DePaul standout might not last. Strus shot 35 percent in college and 36.6 percent in all NBA-affiliated competition before this season. “This season is a positive outlier for Strus in the same way it is a negative outlier for Robinson, who has shot over 40 percent from 3 since high school,” he said.
Heat fans eager to see Strus take Robinson’s starting role permanently (and the Heat trade Robinson) should wait until Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo come back. Despite his lower shooting percentage this season, Robinson is still defended like one of the best shooters in the world. P.J. Tucker is shooting 46.2 percent on 3s this year, but defenders will still leave Tucker open before leaving Robinson open. (Tucker only attempts 2.8 3s per game.)
As Couper Moorhead wrote recently, “Robinson has always taken some of, if not the, toughest threes in the league.” The respect Robinson demands as a shooter opens the floor for Miami when Butler and Adebayo — two non-shooters — are on the floor.
It’s great that Strus has played so well. And it’s a luxury for Miami to have both him and Robinson — especially with so many players out with injuries and health-and-safety protocols.