While hosting a charity event in Florida, Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow made his goals for this upcoming season pretty clear: He wants to log more minutes at point guard. Nevermind the fact that Goran Dragic has already established himself as the primary ball handler down in Miami; the former Duke Blue Devil feels that he’s improved enough to run the offense.
“I just think for what our team wants out of that position, somebody who is a great communicator, somebody who is vocal, somebody who gets guys in their spots, I feel like my playmaking and my ability to take care of the ball has gotten a lot better,” Winslow said via the Sun Sentinel. “We’ll see how that works out, but that’s my plan, is to play point guard and be the point guard for this team.”
This doesn’t appear to be a shot in any way at Dragic, but more a challenge Winslow is setting for himself ahead of his fifth year in the league.
“Everyone has ideas of what they want their role to be, and for most people it never fits what they want,” Winslow said. “Everyone always wants a bigger role, whatever team you’re on. So you just have to understand that as a basketball player — everyone wants the ball late in the games, everyone wants the ball in their hands, everybody wants every play to be run for them. That’s just how we’re built as basketball players.
“It doesn’t make you wrong thinking like that. That’s how I’m going into the season. That’s how I’m approaching it. I want to play point guard. I feel like I’m going to play point guard. Me and Goran have played together last year, so I’m sure we’ll be able to figure it out.”
His assessment of himself isn’t wrong either. Last season Winslow posted career highs in scoring and assists while playing more minutes and being featured in the starting lineup more frequently. However, this isn’t just a simple switch for Winslow and the Heat to make, and he likely wouldn’t be the first one on the totem poll to be asked to share ball-handling duties with Dragic. That would likely go to newly acquired guard/forward Jimmy Butler.
Since being drafted in 2015, Winslow has shown glimpses of what he could become, and his play on the defensive end of the floor is one of his best qualities. There’s no doubt that he would provide the Heat with an interesting look with his length and versatility, and in the short times Winslow was the primary facilitator for the Miami he did show an improvement in his decision making. However, his court vision doesn’t compare to Dragic’s, and while he has made improvements in some areas of his game, he averaged a career high in turnovers last season.
When Dragic missed time due to injury last season, Winslow stepped in to run the offense and even head coach Erik Spoelstra declared last December that Winslow was the team’s starting point guard. Despite being listed as either a small forward or power forward on most NBA stat sites, Winslow, per ESPN, spent 72 percent of his starting minutes as a guard, not a forward.
With Dragic’s injury history and the unconventional style of play Spoelstra and the Heat like to run, it’s not unreasonable to think Winslow could be pushed to run point more often. Depending on what direction the Heat’s season goes in will likely play a role in if Spoelstra is willing to give Winslow the opportunity to show what he can do running the show full time. If the Heat are far outside the playoff picture in the East, why not switch things up and give Winslow a shot? If the team is running smoothly, though, it’s best not to mess with the status quo.