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Metrics at NBA pre-draft camp said Orlando Robinson couldn’t; Heat debut showed otherwise

Orlando Robinson

The euphemism for a player of Robinson’s style is “old school,” a big man whose game is based more on positioning, guile, effort.

That, of course, is not necessarily where NBA teams want the needle to stop when it comes to expending draft capital. So Robinson went unselected in June.

From there, there was an invitation to the Heat’s summer program, a follow-up invite to the team’s training camp, and then a small guarantee extended to get him to the team’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, at the start of this season.

But with Omer Yurtseven lost for months, or longer, due to ankle surgery, and with veteran Dewayne Dedmon dealing with ongoing foot issues, Robinson finally got to cash in on the NBA level when the Heat extended a two-way contract last week.

Then, in his NBA debut, the 6-foot-11, 245-pound big man went for 14 points and seven rebounds in Friday night’s loss to the Washington Wizards, trusted by coach Erik Spoelstra to play the entire overtime over first-round pick Nikola Jovic.

That’s not to say that Robinson is leaving those Chicago metrics behind.

Instead, he said they not only were eye opening, but also motivating.

“From the information I have now,” he said, “I know that I haven’t really explored the limits of what I could possibly be. I know I’m more capable of more.”

The numbers in Chicago were sobering. Of the measurements for standing vertical leap, he placed last among those testing, as well as second-to-last in maximum vertical leap. He was slowest in three-quarter-court sprint. The numbers, although near the bottom, were better in the shuttle run and the lane-agility run, where he finished ahead of several draft picks.

That is why making it to this level and getting to work with the Heat’s training, conditioning and performance staffs is so heartening. Now there is a baseline to build from.

“I know the importance of opening certain areas up, so I can get those higher numbers and run longer distances faster and more efficiently,” he said, with the Heat turning their attention to Sunday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. “So just learning about that and implementing that in my daily routine, I should be able to really separate myself.

“When I saw I was at the bottom, I was like, ‘That’s just crazy.’ So those are definitely areas of my game that I can improve.”

And if not, there also is plenty to be said about old school, which, when combined with Heat-like work ethic, has proven to be a successful formula during the franchise’s Pat Riley era.

“I’m going to be comfortable in whatever role is required,” Robinson, 22, said. “I mean obviously I’m not playing the same way I was in college. I’m playing more off the ball, with all these other great players. I mean, it’s a learning curve for me. But me adjusting to that just adds to my uniqueness as a player, because I can play on the ball and I can play with other people, as well.

“I think I’m going to really show aspects of my game that I wasn’t able to show in college.”

As for combine criticism, the Heat have been here before, when Tyler Herro’s measured in with the shortest wingspan at the 2019 Chicago pre-draft camp. All Herro did was go on to become last season’s NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

“So in that aspect,” Robinson said with a smile, “I’m going to try to do the same thing.”

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