The Miami Heat drafted Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson in 2015. Could they help make the Heat one of the elite teams on defense in the NBA?
Recently speculation arose on whether the Memphis Grizzles will pick up Winslow’s team option.
“Before the NBA’s free-agent negotiation period opens Aug. 2, the Grizzlies will need to make a decision about Justise Winslow, on whom they hold a team option next season for $13 million.”
The initial euphoria about the Winslow trade has worn out its welcome to the point where questions arise on whether a clean break might be the best path going forward for both parties.
“His performance in Memphis, or lack thereof, probably narrows the decision tree. That branch that involves declining the option and signing Winslow to a new, long-term deal? That likely has been lopped off. Instead, it’s a simpler decision: Does he stay or does he go?”
Richardson also hasn’t lived up to the promise he showed in Miami during his stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks. Indications are that his days in Dallas may end sooner rather than later.
“The Mavs traded Seth Curry for Josh Richardson and a second-round before last season. They sacrificed some offensive punch for a defensive upgrade. The move did not work out as planned, and Richardson’s minutes plummeted in the playoffs. Dallas is still searching for that plus perimeter defender to pair with Luka Doncic in the backcourt.”
Now while Winslow and Richardson have become depressed assets recently, their last couple of full seasons with the Heat were solid ones. With three-point percentages of .375 in 2018-19 and .380 in 2017-18, Winslow would fit in nicely either as a small-ball center or point forward in Miami.
Meanwhile in his four seasons with the Heat Richardson averaged 36.8% from beyond the 3-point line. Should he regain that form he could once again become a valuable contributor to the team.
Though traditional statistics haven’t been kind to either player last season, in their last full season guided by Erik Spoelstra, the Heat was better with them on the court rather than off. For Winslow his plus/minus per 100 possessions was +7.1 on-off in 2018-19 and Richardson was +5.1.
Winslow turned 25 and Richardson will turn 28 in September, so they’ll be in their prime if health permits. Alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, Winslow and Richardson would form an impressive defensive foursome to compliment Duncan Robinson. Notably Butler would be the only player north of 30 years old.
Should Victor Oladipo recover, adding a 2017-18 All-Defensive First Team member to the mix would give Miami a disruptive presence on the court. What’s missing is size, but adding a big at a reasonable price for regular season is a possibility.
But will Winslow and Oladipo stay healthy? The appeal of arguably having the best team in the NBA on defense intrigues. The lure of Richardson’s and Winslow’s above average 3-point shooting during their last full season in Miami could be the deciding factor on a possible reunion