The weekly Miami Herald Heat mailbag is here to answer your questions.
Clark: Why did it take so long for the Heat to use Justise Winslow as a point guard?
Anthony Chiang: Because the Heat also has Goran Dragic, who was an All-Star last season. It took an injury to Dragic, who is Miami’s usual starting point guard, for Winslow to get extended court time at the one. Yes, Winslow was also playing some minutes at point guard before Dragic’s right knee became an issue, but it wasn’t for extended stretches like he is now. Plus, there were also moments that Dwyane Wade, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and James Johnson initiated offense with Dragic on the bench.
But with Dragic out until the mid-February All-Star break, it’s allowed Winslow to play as the Heat’s primary point guard and he’s excelled in the role. He’s averaging 14.1 points on 45.9 percent shooting from the field and 37.5 percent shooting from three-point range, 5.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 17 games since the start of December. It’s undoubtedly the best stretch of Winslow’s career.
Remember, Winslow is only 22 years old. He’s in his fourth NBA season, but it’s almost like his third because his second was ended early after just 18 games due to a shoulder injury. Winslow is still learning and growing his game, and the Heat is still learning how to use him.
The next question is, what happens when Dragic eventually returns this season?
@Noble_255: Would you consider Dion Waiters to be part of the Heat’s young core with Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Derrick Jones Jr. and Bam Adebayo?
Anthony: With Waiters at 27 years old, sure. But to be considered a part of the Heat’s young core, he has to stay healthy and remain a part of the team’s long-term plans. For so long, Waiters was unavailable because of ankle surgery. For so long, we saw this team without Waiters in the picture because of his injury. There’s still a question of how he fits in after recently returning from a year-long absence. Waiters has a chance to reestablish himself as a part of the Heat’s future, though, with his contract running until the end of the 2020-21 season.
@nowhitechalk: Is Wayne Ellington out of the rotation because he’s one-dimensional (3s) and now the more complete players are giving that skill (3s) to the team? Only thing I can figure.
Anthony: I mean, there’s something to that with others now incorporating three-point shooting into their games. But it also just has to do with the Heat’s crowded rotation. Erik Spoelstra can only play so many guys, and Waiters’ return adds another option who needs minutes. Last season, Waiters was unavailable, Derrick Jones Jr. wasn’t as good and Rodney McGruder missed a huge chunk of games. There are just more players to play this year. Ellington still has a unique skill set that’s useful, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play in spots moving forward.