Miami Heat rookie Justise Winslow continues to impress Scott Howard-Cooper in the latest Rookie Ladder rankings by hinting another bump up the scale.
"This has become about comparing Winslow to the entire league, not just rookies. He is eighth among all reserves in plus/minus and tied for eighth in fourth-quarter minutes off the bench, a strong endorsement of any first-year player and especially on a good team. Meanwhile, no one in the class is playing more minutes in the final period than his 9.4. A move up the Ladder could be coming."
With Winslow's defensive abilities solidly entrenched, the next step in his evolution will be to polish his skills when the Heat have the ball. Considering only a month has gone by, we need to temper expectations for a complete package. Fans already have gotten more than expected this season.
The Boston Celtics game exposed a weakness in protecting the ball while dribbling, because Winslow's pocket was picked several times by the nimble hands of the defenders. On the other hand, Winslow demonstrated his superior strength in going to the basket via the baseline for scores.
Since the baseline has no restricted area any strong Heat player, such as Winslow, Hassan Whiteside, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem, can start from the corner and go to the hoop for a high-percentage shot without committing an offense foul. Players with hops such as Tyler Johnson or Gerald Green could go baseline as Green did for a highlight dunk against the Cavaliers.
If a defender bites for the baseline attack, the player could pass to a slashing Dwyane Wade, Tyler Johnson, Luol Deng, or Josh Richardson coming into the paint for an uncontested bucket. In Green's dunk above, both Whiteside and Goran Dragic were left open for high-quality shots as Green made his approach.
In such a short span of time Winslow has already established himself as a legit NBA player at the tender age 19 where he only does Netflix. If he continues his current trajectory, the voting for Rookie of the Year should feature his name somewhere on the ballots.