With Dwyane Wade going back home to the Windy City after 13 years in Miami, Pat Riley and the Heat are in search of their new franchise player to build around, and Justise Winslow wants to be the man for the job.
Riley and the Heat just committed $98 million to center Hassan Whiteside for the next four seasons, and if you look at Miami’s new additions like Derrick Williams, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Luke Babbitt, you can tell that the Heat are building this team around point guard Goran Dragic – who Miami gave $85 million to last summer.
The 20-year-old Winslow has drawn comparisons to James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler, who are all currently the face of the franchise for their respective teams. During his rookie season last year, Winslow struggled on offense, shooting just 42% from the field, 27% from three, and just 68% from the charity stripe, but Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel believes Winslow can develop the offense needed to become a franchise player:
“If you’re asking whether Justise has the potential to become a franchise player, I think the Celtics answered that question at the 2015 NBA draft, when they were willing to shower picks on the Heat for Winslow,” Winderman said in a recent mailbag. “For now, I believe that is why the Heat need the likes of Goran Dragic and other veterans alongside, to help Justise appreciate what he can become and how much still needs to be accomplished to get there. The shame is that players such as Wade and Luol Deng would have been the perfect tutors.”
Miami has several young players on their roster besides Winslow and Whiteside in Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson – who the Heat just elected to pay $50 million over four years based on 68 career NBA games played. It’s clear Winslow has the most upside as a former top-ten pick to blossom into a franchise player, but time will tell.
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