Miami Heat

Miami Heat has creative plans for top pick Justise Winslow

Justise Winslow can play small forward or shooting guard and even could be cast as a point guard at times
Justise Winslow can play small forward or shooting guard and even could be cast as a point guard at times AP

After getting a feel for Justise Winslow’s unique skill set during NBA Summer League, the Heat coaching staff is concocting creative ways to use its first-round draft choice.

“It’s going to be good. The way they’re using me I think is going to be really special, really going to help me showcase a lot of my skills,” Winslow said Wednesday at a team event at Carnival Corp. headquarters in Doral.

During Summer League, the 6-6 Winslow displayed defensive acumen, deft ball-handling skills and an ability to beat his man off the dribble. Winslow said he believes coach Erik Spoelstra will entrust him with some ball-handling duties.

“If not playing a lot of point, then playing a lot with the ball in my hands,” he said.

His jump shot needed work, and Winslow committed himself to improving it this summer, both inside and outside the three-point line.

He said coaches have tinkered a bit with the technique on his jumper but “there haven’t been any major changes. Just trying to become more consistent with the shot.

“I definitely feel comfortable shooting from three-point range but it’s working on everything: pull-ups, mid-range, posting up, finishing. There has been a huge emphasis on my shooting mechanics, trying to get everything more fluid and more natural so I can become a better three-point shooter. But there hasn’t been an over-emphasis on three-point shooting.”

Winslow shot 48.6 percent overall and 41.8 percent on threes at Duke, but those numbers slipped dramatically in Summer League, with Winslow closing at 34 percent from the field (14 for 41) and 3 for 12 on threes.

In the wake of a strong performance in Orlando (11.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2 assists in 25 minutes per game), a sprained ankle and “general soreness” limited Winslow’s availability during the Las Vegas portion of Summer League.But Winslow said he has worked past those physical ailments.

“I took some time off,” he said. “Really just strengthened my body so I can last a full season.”

Winslow can play small forward or shooting guard and even could be cast as a point guard at times, but he said the Heat hasn’t told him where it intends to use him primarily.

One key, he said, is “trying to find spots where if I’m in a game with [Dwyane] Wade, [Goran] Dragic and [Chris] Bosh, where I can be most efficient.”

Winslow, who said securing a rotation spot is important to him, spent time bonding with Heat veterans in Los Angeles last week, a group that also included Wade, Bosh, Mario Chalmers and others.

“It was fun being out there,” Winslow said. “A lot of what we did wasn’t even on the court. But the work on the court was great — some basic drills, getting to know the guys. Just being around each other was probably the biggest takeaway. Starting to build a chemistry.”

At 220 pounds, Winslow said he doesn’t want “to put on too much weight so I can still move. It’s not necessarily about building a lot of muscle, but just getting stronger.”

The Heat rejected an offer of six draft picks from Boston to draft Winslow, but Winslow said that doesn’t create any more pressure.

“There were nine teams that passed on me,” he said. “You use that as motivation.”

Winslow said he doesn’t “go down to South Beach too much. I spend most of my time in the arena [and] looking for apartments.”