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Justise Winslow set to overtake Jahlil Okafor in NBA Rookie Ladder

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Winslow has been raising his game since the start of the season and playing important minutes off the bench.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat's Justise Winslow reached the #4 spot on week seven of the NBA's Rookie Ladder, as judged by Scott Howard-Cooper. Comments on Jahlil Okafor indicate that he soon will be knocked down the ladder,

"Going three of 14 from the field Monday against the Spurs in his return from a two-game suspension made it five consecutive outings of failing to make at least half his shots, all while working mostly inside. Okafor is down to 44.9 percent for the season. Plus, the rebounding. Six in 27 minutes, 13 in 32 minutes, five in 30 minutes, four in 29 minutes. The No. 3 spot on The Ladder is now available."

Winslow's performances have been impressive enough to have him jump ahead of Nemanja Bjelica to fourth place,

"While the Knicks have taken a step forward with a big contribution from Porzingis and the Timberwolves are improving with Towns in a central role, Winslow has the one credential no one can touch: best rookie on a good team. It's not even close anymore. He is up to 28.7 minutes, third-best behind Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay, and 9.3 in the fourth quarter for a team on an early pace for 50 wins. "I just know when he's on the floor, we're a lot better defensive team," Dwyane Wade said, according to the Miami Herald."

Winslow climbing ahead of his former teammate at Duke would be quite an accomplishment since Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns were considered the top pick in last summer's draft. Revisiting the 2015 NBA draft, the choices are panning out like this after the first quarter of the season.

1 Karl-Anthony Towns 1
2 D'Angelo Russell out
3 Jahlil Okafor 3
4 Kristaps Porzingis 2
5 Mario Hezonja out
6 Willie Cauley-Stein out
7 Emmanuel Mudiay 9
8 Stanley Johnson out
9 Frank Kaminsky out
10 Justise Winslow 4

Five out of the top ten picks are not even on the Rookie Ladder, while Winslow has jumped the most among them. T. J. McConnell is the biggest surprise in the Ladder list, since he is the only one that went undrafted.

Noticeably Winslow's inclusion in the Ladder depends on the Heat remaining a contender for the Eastern Conference title. Should the Heat falter during their rough January road trip, Winslow might see a drop in his ranking.

As it stands now Winslow is slowly gaining traction as an outside candidate for Rookie of the Year. Currently either Towns or Porzingis are locks to win the trophy if voting were held today.

Winslow's chances to gain the award depend on his upping his offensive production with a more accurate shot and finishing at the rim on a consistent basis. He may not be comfortable with that side of the game though, since he grew up in a Phi Slama Jama household, where is father Rickie Winslow was a member. Justise was raised to defend against the cream of the crop.

Winslow's basketball maturity comes from mixing it up with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon at an early age. Now he has to see if he can bring out the lessons learned on attacking the bucket from those Hall of Famers. Justise has a chance to become one of chosen few NBA greats to become elite on both ends of the court: defensively and offensively.