The Miami Heat have a problem of how to incorporate Justise Winslow back into the fold without disrupting their winning formula. Drafted in 2015 Winslow has seen Bam Adebayo blossom and the new Rooks 1 & 2, Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, receive significant minutes on the court. Duncan Robinson, Meyers Leonard and Derrick Jones Jr. have earned their fair share of playing time also thus far.
Winslow deserves a role according to one revealing metric: plus/minus points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court versus off the court. Not surprisingly Jimmy Butler leads the team with 12.9 points for qualifying players (10 games minimum), with Adebayo next at 4.0 and Winslow at 3.8. So seemingly Winslow helps make the team better, yet in his fifth season his scoring acumen remains a work in progress.
Despite working extensively on his 3-point shooting, this season his TS% of 0.446 and -0.02 Offensive Win Shares rank last on the team. Hope may not be lost because Winslow excels in one department due to his strength and ball-handling skills: as a back-to-the-basket post-up threat. This one series illustrates how he can bully his way to the basket against smaller defenders.
A tiny sample size of 10 post ups hints he could thrive using that play. Among 126 players only Jaylen Brown has a higher FG% than Winslow’s 75%. Notably in those 10 possessions he committed no turnovers, had a 20% assist rate and 50% pass rate. In other words, Winslow appears more comfortable with his back to the basket than driving to rim. Here’s another highlight clip:
At 23 years old Winslow can hone his back to the basket talent as a valuable contribution to the Heat’s arsenal on offense. The Philadelphia 76ers use the most post ups per game of any team, 20, and net the most points, 12, which is far more than Miami’s 3 per game. The back to the basket game may not be a huge factor in a game, but it can keep defenses honest.
Justise Winslow is too valuable of an asset for a contending team to keep off the floor. His imminent return reinforces the Heat as a bona-fide force in race for a top spot in the Eastern Conference. While Miami doesn’t feature a back-to-the-basket style that often, Winslow could have teams respect that play type to give Miami’s 3-point shooters and cutters some breathing room with his superior passing chops.