We may never know why Justise Winslow fell to No. 10 in the 2015 NBA Draft, but one thing is for certain, he is becoming a huge part of the Miami Heat's future. In the wake of Chris Bosh's uncertain status regarding the blood clot, Winslow has been thrust into a larger role and as a result, he averaged 11.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, in 33 minutes per game from February 19th until February 27th.
As most Heat fans know, February 28th marked Joe Johnson's first game as a member of the Heat and as a result it had a negative effect on Winslow's role, but that seems to have been mitigated in recent games. Winslow is showing that he can play nearly any role for the Heat and in doing so making it clear that it was foolish to overlook him in the All-Star Break's Rising Stars Challenge. In this article, I'll try to pinpoint various things Justise Winslow does very well, while not being redundant to SB Nation writer Michael Prada's recent and excellent article on Winslow.
What's interesting about Winslow is that the benefits of having him on the floor don't always show up in the stat sheet. Winslow is an elite defensive force, and for a rookie, he doesn't make many mistakes (which is most likely a testament to why Erik Spoelstra plays him high minutes). In response to his tenacity on the defensive end, Miami has secured multiple victories such as their February 22nd win against the Indiana Pacers, where he locked down Paul George.
It's this fearlessness and confidence that allows him to go toe to toe with the NBA's best that really separates him from some of the NBA's other rookies who favor style over substance. Furthermore, Winslow is able to unleash blasts of energy at certain points in the game not unlike that of a superhero that result in chase down blocks, or flashy slams.
While criticisms have been made regarding Winslow's lack of aggressiveness or shooting ability, he has shown signs of improvement as well as overall potential. Analyzing Winslow's play against the Pacers (once again) it's obvious as to why Winslow could morph into a great offensive player at any time.
One thing that is visible right off the bat regarding Winslow is his ability to run the lanes intelligently. Many rookies struggle to adapt to floor spacing in the NBA at first, however Winslow seems to know his place (especially in the new uptempo offense) and as a result can show off his passing ability.
Winslow is also a great rebounder. Watching him play the floor without the ball is something of beauty as he is constantly observing. This often results in Winslow slowly sneaking his way into the paint and grabbing a board, and dishing it for an assist. It's enticing to see him already so savvy in the rebounding department, because as he develops he might just become a double-double machine. This court vision coupled with his basketball IQ also leads to many steals, and assists.
Additionally Winslow's one-on-one game is also exciting for his age. He has a great handle (almost like that of a young Dwyane Wade) and can get to the rim with ease, and with that either deliver with a bucket or at the free throw line. With that he has a knack of knowing where to place himself on the wing, and as a result can position himself for three point attempts (he's improving from beyond the arc) or great cuts to the key.
Not all rookies are able to find chemistry with the Miami Heat, recently I look at Shabazz Napier, James Ennis, and Norris Cole who all struggled in the Miami offense or at least didn't know their role. Winslow is not like that at all. He has great on court chemistry with both Goran Dragic and Wade, and off court chemistry with Miami's younger players. It's not uncommon to see Winslow, and Josh Richardson celebrating a Wade slam, or appearing in an infamous Hassan Whiteside Snapchat.
It really appears as if Winslow has found a home in Miami, and is definitely fitting in basketball wise. The future obviously holds great things for the self proclaimed "Rook 1" and Heat Nation should be in for a treat.