A rapier-handed defender and tireless hustler, Justise Winslow is pulling new arrows out of his quiver, even if his longest one seems to be splintered.
In today’s NBA, “Morey-Ball” (or 3-and-D) is the new ziggurat that all teams hope to climb. Winslow, Miami’s 2015 1st round draft pick (No. 10), has yet to master what is now pertinent to staying relevant in the modern NBA: 3-pointers. But the defensive stalwart has found some workarounds …
Make no mistake, Winslow is struggling behind the 3-point arc, but that doesn't mean he can't shoot. Well, actually, it just means he has to pick his spots carefully -- very carefully. Lately, Chief Justise has been throwing it back to 2008; the rookie has been taking a few steps inside the arc and hitting deep, wing-jumpers, mostly from the right wing.
For the month of March, Winslow has drilled 48.1 percent of his 16-foot-plus mid-range jumpers (13-of-27), per basketball-reference.com; in the same category, in March, Chris Paul is shooting 42.9 percent on such shots (24-of-56).
Though, those shots don't maximize the effects of spacing, it's better than record-scratching 3s (pump-faking a 3-pointer that leads to nothing, allowing the defense to catch up -- aka The Anderson Varejao Special). If Winslow can continue his progress and develop a reliable 15-to-20-footer, the 3-point shot should be a natural progression.
There are are a couple ways to make your opponent honor your spacing (or illusion of spacing). One: be able to shoot 3s. Two: be a constant, vicious, sleuthing cutter, with and without the ball. Winslow, being a hustle guy, has taken on the second option. If you can’t stretch out your defender with your spacing/shooting, then you can at least keep him on his heels with the incessant fear of being back-cut.
Winslow is getting adept at catching his man asleep or ball-watching, sneaking behind his opponents for easy layups; ultimately, forcing his man to give him undivided attention. That’s the trick ladies -- you want your man to give you his undivided attention? Well, be like Justise Winslow. Back-cut him!
(Now I’m picturing every man’s girlfriend running behind them to get their attention. Hey, I bet it would work. It might even work for a certain high-profile couple right now.)
Unfortunately, cutting and effort are hard to put into stats (as of now). Though it may not to be massive, what Winslow contributes to Miami’s offense might go unnoticed due to current boxscore limitations.
It should be noted: When Winslow is on the court, the Heat score 1.03 points per possession and allow about .99 points per possession on defense, according to NBA.com/Stats; while Winslow is on the bench, the Heat score about 1.05 points per possession and they allow about 1.05 points per possession, baring a near neutral net. Last time I checked, you can’t win basketball games trading baskets. Winslow brings far more to the table than he takes off, even if his longest arrow is still splintered.
For the month of March, Winslow has hit 5-of-13 of his 3s (38.5 percent). Though it's a small sample size, perhaps we're seeing an upwards trend.