Miami Heat

Heat’s Justise Winslow more productive than several players drafted ahead of him

Justise Winslow of the Miami Heat dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015.
Justise Winslow of the Miami Heat dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. pportal@elnuevoherald.com

Rookies Justise Winslow, Frank Kaminsky and Stanley Johnson will be inexorably linked, and their careers compared, because the Pistons and Hornets bypassed Winslow in June’s draft, Detroit opting to take Johnson eighth and Charlotte choosing Kaminsky ninth, thus dropping Winslow to the elated Heat at No. 10.

So how do their rookie seasons compare so far?

▪ Of that trio, Winslow has the highest shooting percentage (42.7), the highest rebounding and assist averages (5.3, 1.5) and the best plus/minus (plus 64, which ranks 54th in the league and tops among rookies).

He also has the best defensive metrics: Players guarded by Winslow are shooting just 39.1 percent, compared with 49.7 against Johnson and 44.0 versus Kaminsky.

Winslow also has played the most minutes (571), compared with Johnson’s 492 and Kaminsky’s 330.

▪ Johnson — whom Winslow calls “a best friend” — has scored the most points (185, to Winslow’s 127 and Kaminsky’s 99).

▪ Kaminsky shoots the best from three-point range (39.4 percent), compared with Johnson’s 29.5 and Winslow’s 22.9 (8 for 35).

Therein lies the one shortcoming with Winslow’s game: perimeter shooting. Winslow, averaging 6.4 points, entered Friday having made 11 of his past 33 shots, and 2 of his past 12 threes, over his past eight games.

Opponents have begun sagging off him.

“I think a lot of times more attention is on me when I’m in a ball screen or coming off a handoff action,” he said.

“But there’s less attention off the ball. So I’m trying to keep improving my outside shot to make the defense respect it more. As that becomes more consistent, then it’ll just make us a much tougher team.”

So does coach Erik Spoelstra want Winslow shooting when he’s open?

“Yeah, the right ones,” Spoelstra said Friday. “He tends to make the shot at the right time, but the corner three is something we encourage him to take.”

Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy, asked months ago about passing on Winslow, said: “The main reason people ask that question is that he’s from Duke and he won the national championship.”

Asked Wednesday why the Hornets took Kaminsky over Winslow, coach Steve Clifford said: “It was difficult, because Justise is a good player. But so much of it is need. Justise’s position, that versatile three/four, is what we have in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But we were really high on Frank anyway.”

Winslow said he isn’t motivated playing against teams that bypassed him and that any disappointment of falling to 10th has dissipated.

“I kind of used it as motivation early,” he said. “But there have been plenty of players picked 10th: Paul George, Joe Johnson. Guys picked in the second round have become All-Stars.”

Winslow — who ranks third among rookies in minutes, sixth in rebounds and 10th in scoring — said the key, regardless of “how many points I score,” is to “find a way to affect the game.”

HEAT SHORTHANDED

The Heat played Friday without backup point guard Tyler Johnson and backup forward Josh McRoberts.

Johnson sat out with a left shoulder injury sustained in practice. “Can’t remember what happened,” Johnson said. “It’s a little sore. I don’t want to re-aggravate it.”

McRoberts is being held out for maintenance reasons on his right knee, which was surgically repaired last December. “We want to make sure he’s progressing at a healthy level,” Spoelstra said.

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