Miami Heat

Justise Winslow shows versatility in first summer-league game

Miami Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra talks to the media during the introduction of new rookie Justise Winslow on Monday, June 29, 2015, at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Winslow was the team's top draft pick.
Miami Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra talks to the media during the introduction of new rookie Justise Winslow on Monday, June 29, 2015, at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Winslow was the team's top draft pick. TNS

So much for any notion of giving Justise Winslow a little time to get comfortable at a couple of positions before filling his plate. Or perhaps the Heat’s first-round draft pick is simply that much of a quick study.

Slated to shuttle between shooting guard and small forward, Winslow had hardly broken a sweat in Saturday’s summer-league opener when he found himself defending at power forward. Before morning’s end, Heat coaches tested his ballhandling skills coming out of a timeout.

“That’s my game; that’s what I do,” Winslow said after his 15 points helped the Heat cruise to a 92-76 romp over Indiana in the first game of the Orlando Pro Summer League.

“I do everything on the court, so whatever position [my] coach wants me to play. Whatever he has me doing out there, I’m going to try to do it to the best of my ability.”

If anything, moving Winslow around might have helped the one-and-done Duke standout shake free from what had been a largely quiet game through the first 21/2 quarters.

Six of his points came in a seven-minute stretch bridging the third and fourth periods, helping the Heat stretch an eight-point lead to 26.

“He was locked in,” said Dan Craig, the Heat’s player development chief and coach of the summer roster. “It didn’t look like there was any indecision on his part. In the timeouts, he was very confident. He was focused.”

Second-round pick Josh Richardson added 14 points and James Ennis had 13 as the Heat never trailed after the fifth minute. Zoran Dragic contributed 12 points, all coming in the first half.

“I think we have a really high-IQ group that is talented,” Craig said. “When you put IQ and talent together, you get good chemistry.”

Indiana’s Myles Turner tallied 20 points and eight rebounds to lead everyone in those categories. The Pacers also turned the ball over 25 times and went the entire game without a fast-break point.

Versatility was Winslow’s calling card in the draft, a natural wing player but producing some of his best work at power forward in Duke’s run to the national title. He also showed he could orchestrate the Blue Devils’ offense for brief stretches.

That’s a lot to put on an NBA rookie’s plate, and Winslow told reporters before the Heat headed upstate that his focus would be at small forward or shooting guard.

Though Saturday’s smallish lineup featured the 6-7 Ennis at power forward and Winslow on the wing, the two did a fair amount of interchanging roles against the Pacers’ taller frontcourt.

“We just tried to play off each other, complement each other and do our best to perform well,” Winslow said.

Though the Heat hadn’t originally planned on giving Winslow so many roles in his first pro outing, Craig suggested, the appeal was difficult to resist.

“He’s a guy who can bring you all of these things,” the coach said, “so throughout the course of the game we were able to see that. Some of it was scripted, some of it wasn’t.”

Winslow played a role in the Heat’s last five points of the first half, including one steal that led to two free throws when he was fouled on a coast-to-coast attempt and another he dished to Dragic for a layup.

Craig also asked Winslow to handle the ball a couple of times coming out of second-half timeouts, clearing one side and letting the rookie go one-on-one with a defender.

“I just try to do everything,” Winslow said. “I try to distribute, try to make plays for my teammates and myself. So however that comes, whatever position I’m doing that at, it doesn’t matter to me.

“I just kind of play positionless basketball.”

If there was one glaring omission from Winslow’s score sheet, it’s that he somehow made it through 27 minutes of action without a rebound.

“One thing I can definitely work on,” he said.


▪ Guard Shabazz Napier, still working his way back from sports-hernia surgery, did not dress as the Heat tries to ease him back in slowly.

Forward Henry Walker also sat out with a sprained right ankle.

▪ New to summer league this year: Referee headsets and instant replay. A replay review helped Richardson to a four-point play at the end of the third quarter, when cameras showed his contested three-pointer beat the buzzer.