Heat forward Justise Winslow insists his confidence isn’t shaken by his shooting struggles to start his second NBA season.
But at some point, Winslow and the Heat assuredly want to start seeing results after he worked tirelessly all summer on his shooting, the biggest shortcoming for a player who does most everything else well.
“All the shots are on line,” Winslow said after opening 0 for 7 and closing 5 for 18 in Friday’s loss at Toronto. “I’m shooting them with confidence and think every shot is going. I threw up some crazy ones in the paint, thought I got fouled.”
Despite working with Heat shooting coach Rob Fodor to refine his shooting mechanics, and despite launching hundreds and hundreds of shots from all over the court during summer workouts, Winslow has made just 26 of 77 shots from the field through five games, 33.8 percent.
He’s even worse on three-pointers; 3 for 18 (16.7 percent).
Many of his misses have come from close range.
Winslow is shooting 16 for 40 within nine feet of the basket, 4 for 13 from 15 to 19 feet and 6 for 18 from 20 to 24 feet.
“In my head, I think the last shot [I took] went in, so that’s just how I’m going out there and playing, playing with a bunch of confidence,” he said.
“It looks bad after the game, looking at 5 for 18. But they’re all shots I know I can make, and all on line, on target. I don’t want to be too hard on myself.”
Winslow’s rough game in Toronto happened on the same night that Phoenix guard Devin Booker, selected three picks after Winslow went 10th in the 2015 NBA Draft, scored a career-high 38 in a Suns’ win against New Orleans.
Winslow’s shooting issues certainly can’t be blamed on lack of effort or lack of dedication to his craft. At 20, he’s mature beyond his years.
When Winslow was among players selected to work out with, and scrimmage against, the U.S. Olympic team in Las Vegas this past summer, he studied the leadership techniques used by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich – hoping he could apply them in his expanded role this season --- and solicited input from Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Carmelo Anthony and others.
And when Winslow goes home after practice, he often whips out his tablet and studies video of players who have similar elements in their games. He says he does it five days a week, “maybe even more,” often while listening to music.
“There are guys in the league that don't watch film at all, that won't watch somebody else's highlights, that only watch their highlights,” he said.
“As far as trying to really learn something, I’ll watch Kobe [Bryant], I’ll watch [Tracy McGrady]. I watch Kyrie, James Harden highlights. I watch Kawhi Leonardi, some DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant a little.”
This summer, after working on his three-point shot with Fodor, Winslow went home and studied tape of Warriors guard Klay Thompson because “his shot looks the same every time. That registered with me and something I've been trying to do with my elbow or wrist, shoot the exact way, land on balance each shot.”
Studying other players extends beyond taking mental notes.
For example: “I saw a move Kyrie did and recorded it on my phone and put it in slow motion. I wanted to look at the footwork. I brought it up here [to AmericanAirlines Arena].
“A couple of the coaches looked at and it was like a Eurostep. I texted it to Kyrie, too. Any move that I think is unique or I think I could do or implement in my game right away, I try to watch film and try to do it.”
Winslow understands the big picture.
“It's a small sample size, but I know what I need to work on: obviously, three-point shooting,” he said. “I see the opportunity that I have. I think I have shown glimpses of what I'm capable of.”
• Guard Josh Richardson played 12 scoreless minutes in his season debut Friday and said he emerged without any discomfort in his right knee, two months after sustaining a partially torn MCL.
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