The Heat need Justise

With the Miami Heat heading into a rebuilding season, it’s an important season for second year pro Justise Winslow to develop his offensive game. In his Duke Blue Devil days Winslow was the team’s defensive stud but was counted on to carry the offense. There have been signs this preseason that his offensive game will take a leap to catch up to his skills on the defensive end. With Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, and Joe Johnson all wearing different jerseys this season, the opportunities will be there for Winslow to make the leap.

Winslow was drafted into a great situation with really good NBA veterans to show him the way in the league but he didn’t have to carry the burden of stepping in immediately and contributing. Five games into the preseason and his workload has already begun to change. Coach Erik Spolestra is putting Winslow in situations where he’ll have to create off the dribble. In the example against the Brooklyn Nets, he came off of a double high pick-and-roll and attacked the big that didn’t do a good job hedging on the screen. This gave Winslow a lane to the rim and two points.

Another area that appears to have improved is his three point shot. Last season he shot 27.6% from three but is already connecting on 41.7% of his long ball attempts so far in the preseason. Adding a consistent three ball will open up the floor for Winslow. In the two examples below, he got a wide-open three because Kawhi Leonard left him to help on a pick-and-roll and Winslow made him pay. Later in the second half when Winslow is found open on the wing, Leonard closed out hard on him. Winslow blew right by him and got in the lane for an easy layup.

These are good signs of progression for the Heat but it is still a process. Winslow still has to stay under control as he drives. In the examples below, he drove baseline and left his feet to pass but the defense forced the turnover. Later in the same game Winslow barreled down the lane and kicked the ball out to the wing but not before picking up a charge and another turnover.

The Heat should be encouraged by Winslow’s improvement from deep and no player develops overnight. He has the tools and attributes to be a great two-way player like Leonard and Jimmy Butler. This is a great season to let Winslow expand on his skills but the organization has to live with the growing pains that will definitely follow as he tinkers with his game. If the Heat are patient with Justise Winslow’s development by the end of the season he might prove to be the piece the Heat should build around.

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