Justise Winslow’s jumper remains a major work in progress but the 20-year-old has shown definitive improvement as a creator and that bodes well for an already elite-caliber defender aspiring to be the Miami Heat’s go-to guy one day.
His assist rate has tripled, from 7.4 percent to 19.5 percent as his usage rate has climbed to 22 percent. The shooting has been an eyesore — 36 percent from the field and 19 percent from three, compared to 42 percent and 28 percent last year, respectively — but he’s going to experience some discomfort as he transitions from offensive role player to the team’s No. 2 or No. 3 option.
However, he’s not only never going to be in the same realm as superstar Kawhi Leonard but he won’t “ever” be a centerpiece of the Heat, according to Dan Le Batard during the local hour of his radio show on Wednesday.
“Great that he’s doing this at 20,” Le Batard said. “Great that you can trust him to try and lock down — and successfully lock down — Rudy Gay at the end of games. Rudy Gay didn’t want any part of that defense…
Rudy NAY https://t.co/W6A5PHHwUW
— Josh Baumgard (@joshbaumgard) November 2, 2016
“Its great that he can do that and if he can do only that for the rest of his career that’s good. If he grows behind that, that’s better. But get out of here with [the] Kawhi Leonard [comparison]. That’s ridiculous. Just rediculous. Winslow is never gonna be the centerpiece of this team. Ever. Ever.”
“You will be thrilled if he’s Jimmy Butler,” Le Batard continued. “Thrilled. But stop with Kawhi Leonard! … I think you’d be really really really happy if Winslow grows into Luol Deng.”
In a world where everyone seems to make premature superstar comparisons, the Leonard one is a head-scratcher — at this stage. Yet Leonard gradually transitioned from role player to cornerstone as the Spurs’ Hall of Fame-laden core aged and the roles reversed.
Winslow may have started his career playing with some big-name players in Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Deng, and Joe Johnson, but his development has been fast-tracked and he is not afforded the same leisurely progression as Kawhi. At this point, however, it’s foolish to proclaim Winslow incapable of being a centerpiece when, at 20 years old and four games into his second season, we have NO clue what his ceiling even is.
Winslow is looking good overall as an attacker so far – some nice kick outs too https://t.co/kuhuUz2hDw
— Josh Baumgard (@joshbaumgard) October 26, 2016
It might be more likely his best-case scenario is Luol Deng or Jimmy Butler but that doesn’t mean he won’t become something greater. Didn’t Dan make that mistake already with Hassan Whiteside?
Justise Winslow’s offense is leaps behind his menacing defensive ability but with evidence of the newfound playmaking, he’s a jumper away from becoming a lethal wing in this league for years to come. Keep the lid off the 20-year-old’s game.