Entering the 2015 NBA draft, small forward Justise Winslow from Duke University was expected to be a top pick, with some experts predicting he would be selected by the New York Knicks with the fourth pick.
Nonetheless, as the draft played out, Winslow ended up slipping all the way to the tenth pick, where the Miami Heat selected him and supposedly got the “steal of the draft.”
Winslow was thought of very highly by NBA scouts due to his NBA ready build, his tremendous defensive instincts, his winning mentality and his advanced basketball IQ. According to scouts, his only weakness was that his offensive game was limited, as his jump shot needed improvement for him to truly excel at the NBA level.
However, it is now 2017, two years after Winslow was drafted, and he has yet to show much improvement in his offense since his rookie year. His development has clearly taken longer than most people thought it would, and although it is unfair to label him as a bust since he is only 21 years old, Heat fans have become increasingly impatient with Winslow.
His elite defense has carried on from college to the pros, which is the main reason why he still is a key piece in the Heat rotation, but his offensive skills still need a lot of work.
In his rookie season, Winslow averaged 6.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on 42.2 percent shooting in 28.6 minutes. This season, he is currently averaging 6.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on 42.6 percent shooting in 23.6 minutes.
Obviously, since he is playing five less minutes per game this season, his numbers are not going to look much better, if better at all. Even so, Heat fans expected that his jump shooting percentages would at least improve, but this simply has not been the case. Winslow’s three-point percentage has only increased from 27.6 percent in his rookie season to 31.6 this year, which is still below the league average.
One possible reason for why his development has been so slow is that last season, Winslow suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and this prevented him from being able to improve his game for a large portion of this past offseason. He was only able to play in 18 games last season, so this season can almost be viewed as Winslow’s true second season if he can remain healthy.
Even if Winslow has not looked as great as expected in his third season, no one can deny that the 21-year-old has a ton of potential.
In his most recent game versus the Washington Wizards, Winslow’s potential was on full display as he scored ten points, seven rebounds, two steals and one block in only 17 minutes. He was a key reason why the Heat gained a 25-point lead in the first half of that game, and he even had a few highlight plays, including a putback dunk over Bradley Beal and a eurostep layup around John Wall.
Even though it is understandable that Heat fans are disappointed in Winslow’s development, all they can do right now is be patient and hope that Winslow can stay healthy. With more game experience and another full offseason to improve his shooting mechanics, Winslow can still exceed his high expectations set in 2015. Winslow is going to be in the league for a very long time, and there is no reason to believe that he cannot become a great two-way player.
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