Miami Heat

Mailbag: Is it more about role than position for Heat’s Justise Winslow?

The Miami Herald Heat mailbag is here to answer your questions.

If you weren’t able to ask this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang). You can also email them in to

@HEATL3GACY: What does Justise Winslow have to do on the court this year to prove he’s worthy to be Miami’s starting point guard?

Anthony Chiang: This is a popular question after Justise Winslow said just days ago that he wants to play as a point guard this season. But instead of giving it a positional label in a somewhat positionless era, it’s more about the role Winslow is used in this season. There’s no denying that Winslow has been a more effective player during his four-year NBA career with the ball in his hands. Whether it’s as a point guard or point forward, it doesn’t matter ... as long as the ball is in his hands.

The numbers back this up.

While filling in for injured starting point guard Goran Dragic last season, Winslow averaged 13.1 points on 43.3 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent shooting from three-point range, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.1 steals to go with a plus-minus of plus-51 during the 31-game span Dragic was out because of right knee surgery. It was easily the best sustained stretch of Winslow’s NBA career.

Winslow has also improved as a catch-and-shoot player, though. He actually shot a team-best 41.2 percent on catch-and-shoot threes last season, proving he can also score while playing off the ball. That’s encouraging.

Still, Winslow wants the ball in his hands. And putting him in an on-ball role for most of his minutes seems to maximize his complete skill set, whether it’s as the Heat’s starting point guard, backup point guard or even a point forward role.

@Daniel22223333: What is the Heat’s likely win total this season?

Anthony: Las Vegas set the mark for the Heat at around 42 wins. Considering Miami won 39 games last season without Jimmy Butler and while Dragic missed a large chunk of the season because of an injury, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Heat win around 45 (or more) games this season with Butler now on the roster and Dragic now healthy.

Of course, the Heat also lost Dwyane Wade to retirement, and Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside to trades this offseason. So for those thinking the Heat will finish at or just below .500 this season, those departures probably have something to do with that.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.