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Justise Winslow and the unlikely intangibles

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Justise Winslow has a staggering +/- for a rookie. Here's how he's helping the Heat win.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When the Miami Heat drafted Justise Winslow from Duke University with the 10th pick of the NBA Draft, they likely didn't expect that the 19 year-old rookie would be making a difference this quickly.

From the outside, through 7 games, Winslow isn't doing anything statistically that will make you awe. He's averaging a modest, but good, 7.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 1.3 APG. He has an 8.8 PER and shooting 45% from the floor.

Winslow has played in all 7 games and is averaging 28 MPG. That's where the intrigue clicks in. Historically, rookies don't get that much time in a Pat Riley ran organization. Sure, he'll draft them if he has to, but they aren't going to be playing much and he might even trade them the next year.

But Winslow has something else to him. Even though he isn't busting out 20 points, he is changing the Heat style and their grit. And what is the most obvious glaring factor is his +/- through these 7 games, which Winslow is at +71.

Now, the +/- can be hard to judge a player by game-to-game, but over the course of these many games, it's clear that Winslow is on the court when the Heat are making runs. You saw it last night, and you've seen it before. He may not be scoring in bunches, but like what coach says, "he makes winning plays."

He also referred to him as a Swiss Army Knife...

Winslow is doing things that don't always show up in the box score. He plays straight up, solid defense. He rarely gets caught by a pump fake and can force his opponent into a difficult shot. He's learned, mostly, how to defend without fouling. These are the things everyone knew scouting Winslow, he is a solid defender. But his size was concerning. Well, as a rookie, Justise is grabbing nearly 5 rebounds per game, playing the 3 or 4 position. He hasn't been in a lineup where he has been the shooting guard.

He's routinely guarding people bigger than him, getting stops and rebounding. On top of that, you can clearly see he is a guy that does the intangibles. He rotates on defense tremendously, often slowing the other team down. On offense, he knows where to move the ball, isn't a clog and doesn't turn it over much for the amount of minutes he plays, 1.3. That's a 1-1 ratio with assists, which isn't good, but he doesn't have the ball in his hands too much.

He can guard bigger players and he can guard point guards. He's proving night in and night out, so far.

Winslow is doing exactly what he needs to do to get playing it. With Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, and Hassan Whiteside there are plenty of shots that need to be taken. Winslow is finding his way doing the intangibles and making winning plays. If he keeps this up, his +/- will continue to soar and force the coaching staff to keep his minutes up even as a rookie.

The reason this is all unlikely is because you would expect a kid that's a top 10 lottery pick to come in and want to score, something Winslow excelled at while at Duke. But he's doing the opposite, taking what his teammates provide and doing the intangibles to stay on the court.

And the more time Winslow gets, the better off the Heat's future is mortgaged under this kid.

Keep it up, Justise!