Only one month into his NBA career, Justise Winslow has already proved himself to be a great defender and an important piece of one of the best teams in the East.
And with starter Luol Deng potentially unavailable for tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Winslow knows his role could expand at the defensive end of the floor, especially when guys like Kevin Durant and LeBron James come to town.
But instead of being intimidated by playing against two former MVPs in consecutive games, the rookie is looking forward to the challenge in front of him :
It's why you play the game. If you want to be one of the best players ever, you've got to play against them. Whether I'm guarding them or they're guarding me, just be in attack mode. It's something you dream about. But when you're out there, it's the moment of truth.
With or without Deng, Winslow will be assigned to guard the two superstars, just like he did against Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and James Harden earlier in the season. He often did a pretty good job on them, but sometimes his great one-on-one defense was just not enough.
That's why Miami will need a total team effort defensively to beat the Thunder and the Cavaliers. Guys like Durant, LeBron and Russell Westbrook are too great to be stopped individually, or even stopped period.
Obviously, it's great to see a young player like Winslow excited about the opportunity, even though he doesn't want to get too high on it :
I just try to live in the moment, because you can make the moment too big and you'll shrink down.