The Miami Heat having Justise Winslow cover Karl-Anthony Towns seemed crazy at first, until the real reason showed up during the game - Winslow has better foot work than Hassan Whiteside to defend Town's excellent post moves.
Towns depends more on his skill set around the basket than raw power. With his quick feet Winslow was nimble enough to box out Towns in the post and prevent easy entry passes. Meanwhile Whiteside could then guard the paint against drives by Andrew Wiggins to the hoop, which hurt the Heat in the first game. Normally Towns would have tied up Whiteside trying to stop him, which leaves the paint open for Wiggins and Jimmy Butler for attacks at the rim.
Against the Washington Wizards the opposite happened where the stronger Markieff Morris bullied Winslow in the post, and Erik Spoelstra quickly countered that plan by putting the bigger James Johnson on Morris. Winslow can guard nimble forwards, Johnson matches up well with the stronger ones such as Morris and DeMarcus Cousins, while Whiteside does a great job intimating players driving to the rim. The whole of the pieces is greater than the sum of their parts.
During the last few games, Justise shows signs of having a breakout season this year. In the video below, he grabs a rebound, smartly takes the ball down the court, Euro-steps by Wiggins, sees Towns ready to block his shot, waits to draw in help defenders, then makes an accurate pass to Dion Waiters.
Notice: the stronger Wiggins knocks Josh Richardson off his feet, Whiteside unselfishly lets Justise get the board, Winslow accelerates past Wiggins in the open court, slows down in the paint to pry defenders off their men, Josh doesn’t get the ball due to his shooting struggles, Whiteside smartly runs in front of Wiggins to box him out for a potential rebound.
Winslow's increased confidence even translated to hitting both of his 3-point shots. Lately he seems more at ease making the right split-second decisions on the court. He pulled down 6 rebounds in only 21 minutes. Per 36 minutes his stat line would have been 14 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 7 personal fouls.
This season, at just 21 years of age, Justise looks like the player the Miami Heat drafted out of Duke. He's not forcing issues, and the NBA game is coming more naturally to him. The 3-point shooting glitch was a time-consuming issue last summer. Now as his complete game is progressing, even that problem is gradually fixing itself.
The best sign of things to come is Winslow's ability to understand what's happening on the floor at NBA speed. Earlier he was hesitant bringing the ball down the court and got caught letting defenses set against him. Now he's pushing the ball up the court quicker and attacking the defenders before they can react. With increasing reps his game will get smoother and smoother.