Justise Winslow Provides A Glimpse Into The Future In Win Over Lakers
The vast majority of 20-year-old NBA players are a long way from being the fully developed basketball players you hope they become. With young players like Justise Winslow, the developmental process can be ugly and painful, with missed jumpers and questionable decisions making it hard to remain optimistic about his future.
All you can hope for with raw players like Winslow is short flashes of greatness that hint at what he could become some day.
Throughout the early stages of Winslow’s career, we’ve seen those flashes. Whether it’s the impressive passing ability he has seemed to display with increasing consistency, the stellar defense that is beyond his years or the ability to attack defenders and work his way to the rim.
These winning plays have been sprinkled in with his otherwise incomplete game to give people short glimpses of what he may look like if and when he is able to put it all together. In last night’s 115-107 win against the Los Angeles Lakers, Winslow was able to put all of these little flashes together to form a complete game that serves as a clue of what the future of the Miami HEAT could be.
.@iamjustise had a great night vs the Lakers!
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 23, 2016
Tallying 23 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four steals, Winslow showed us a little bit of everything. He showed off his scoring ability, working with his back to the basket, attacking off the dribble, running in transition and even hitting a couple pull-up jumpers.
Winslow was able to use his impressive combination of strength and athleticism to play much bigger than he is, relentlessly bullying players inside to get position and using a soft touch to finish around the rim. He was also able to show off the playmaking ability that I expect to be a staple of his offensive game going forward.
Since 1984, only two Under-21 players have had a 23-13-3 with 4 steals as Justise Winslow did tonight.
— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) December 23, 2016
As we’ve seen in the past, Winslow’s playmaking impact goes beyond the three assists that showed up in the box score. He showed the vision and basketball IQ to find the open man whenever he needed and the strength and precision to deliver accurate passes from across the court.
With his 13 rebounds and four steals, Winslow also displayed an ability to fight for the ball and push it in transition to create quick plays for himself and his teammates. He displayed a unique versatility that has become so coveted in the NBA.
While clearly not at their level yet, Winslow’s ability to make plays like a guard while working inside like a big man calls to mind players like Draymond Green and LeBron James, who have both become key players on championship teams with their ability to direct their offenses while also filling the role of a big man.
In an era of small ball and positionless basketball, Winslow’s ability to fill multiple roles on both sides of the basketball could help him become one of the more valuable players in the NBA.
There are also some qualifiers to his impressive night. Some may argue that one great game doesn’t mean much and plenty of mediocre players have shown short flashes of greatness, and they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. However, it is still encouraging to see a young, raw player slowly figure out how to be successful in the NBA and put the pieces of his game together.
One game may not mean much, but if Winslow can build off of this performance and use it to learn what does and doesn’t work for him, he will have a bright future in this league. At this stage of his career, it’s all about these learning experiences. If Winslow can learn from these moments, we may see more and more of the player that led Miami to victory last night.