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Battle for Miami Heat’s second max contract behind Jimmy Butler adds intrigue to the season

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With a little over a month left before the regular season begins, the Heat roster gradually takes shape.

Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Could a player from the current roster displace Bradley Beal as the favorite for Miami Heat’s second max contract?

Besides Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic is the only player on the Heat to achieve All-NBA or All-Star status up to this point.

The question is whether any other member on the team can elevate his performance enough to the level of a Beal to justify earning the other max contract in the coming seasons.

Bam Adebayo was the front runner due to his invitation to Team USA, but he may have jumped the shark as a role model due to an ill-advised participation in a hot dog eating challenge.

Four years ago Justise Winslow came into the NBA as the expected 2015 steal of the draft per Nick Friedell of The Jump.

Going into his fifth season as a seasoned veteran, Winslow may finally capitalize on a 3-point prowess from his college days and fulfill his potential as the expected heir apparent to Dwyane Wade.

In his one season at Duke University Winslow converted 38 of his 96 attempts, good for a 39.6% percentage and 12th place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Basketball-reference listed him as a 41.8%, 46 of 110, marksman from the college 3-point line that season, which hinted his becoming an elite 3-and-D wing.

While Winslow took a couple of seasons adjusting to the longer 3-point arc in the NBA, in his last two seasons at 38% and 37.5% 3P%, he gradually fulfilled the potential of his collegiate numbers.

In 2018-19 he and Dion Waiters were the top performers for Miami from beyond the line, minimum 100 3PA, at 37.7% and 37.5% respectively.

Compare those numbers to the bottom four NBA players with over 250 3-point attempts: Russell Westbrook, 29%; Joel Embiid, 30%; Kyle Kuzma, 30.3%; Nikola Jokic, 30.7%.

Other volume shooters with 3P% under 37% include Damian Lillard, 36.9%; James Harden, 36.8%; Beal, 35.1%.

Those numbers taken out of context can lie since 98% of Winslow’s 3-pointers were assisted, compared to Harden who made 84% of his long-range baskets unassisted.

On the other hand 64% of Winslow’s made 2-point baskets were of the unassisted variety, to give a blended total of 46% FGM UAST, which is greater than the NBA average of 40%.

This implies that Winslow can create his own shot inside the perimeter, if he is run off the line.

That said Winslow realizes the guard position makes more sense for him per these stats from last season, where he converted 45.5% of all his field goal attempts as a starting guard, versus 36.6% as a starting forward.

Heat fans hope to see Winslow maximize his strong points and prove Nick Friedell’s assessment wrong with a breakout season entering the prime of his career.

Meanwhile Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Josh Richardson, Brandon Knight, Jeff Green, Alonzo Gee joined Heat forwards James Johnson, Derrick Jones Jr., Duncan Robinson, Davon Reed in a workout video to preview a very competitive season.

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With less than two weeks before training camp commences, the stakes are high to see who will compliment Butler the best and elevate the Heat to relevancy once again.