This Heat player is known for winning plays, ‘but everybody wants to score’
By Manny Navarro
Before he blew past Davon Reed, slammed the ball in the face of Marquese Chriss and made a funny “stank face” to celebrate his rim-rattling dunk late in Monday night’s blowout of the Phoenix Suns, Justise Winslow got mocked by his teammates for missing another dunk attempt earlier in the game.
“When I went after the whistle and threw it off the backboard and missed it, they said don’t do that,” Winslow said. “… [So] I just had to prove it to them. It felt good. I mean I went by my defender and just went for it, let it all hang out. It was nasty — and a little crusty — so that’s what the celebration was about.”
Like an ice cream sundae, Winslow’s vicious, left-handed jam was the cherry on top of what turned out to be a stellar five-game homestand for the Heat’s 2015 first-round pick. With Monday’s second career double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four steals), the 21-year-old averaged 12.2 points, six rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.2 steals while shooting 53.5 percent from the field and 7 of 12 from three-point range.
As a player who has struggled to score (7.1 points per game) and shoot at a high percentage (40.4 percent) his entire career, Winslow said the homestand was the best he has felt offensively since he averaged 10.9 points per game before his second season in the league was cut short by shoulder surgery.
“Just finally catching a rhythm, finding my spots in the flow of the offense and staying aggressive,” said Winslow, who in the 18 games prior to this homestand (following a return from a knee injury) averaged 5.6 points on 33.7 percent shooting and was 87 of 193 (45.1 percent) inside the paint for the season.
“Everybody wants to score man, regardless of what they say,” Winslow said after scoring 13 points in a win over the Pistons on Saturday. “The winning plays thing is true, definitely true. But everybody wants to score. It’s nice when you’re able to do that and other stuff too.”
Taken with the 10th pick in the draft, many Heat fans haven’t forgiven Pat Riley for drafting Winslow instead of Pacers big man Myles Turner (12.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg in his career), who was selected a pick later, or Suns guard Devin Booker, who was chosen with the 13th pick and recently became the third-youngest player in NBA history behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant to score 4,000 career points.
Booker, who has suffered through plenty of losing in his time with the Suns (he has a career 56-145 record), told NBA TV before he scored 31 points against the Heat in Monday’s game, that Miami should have drafted him.