Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow has been a recent bright spot for the team, but ESPN analyst Stan Van Gundy isn’t buying the hype yet.
The former Heat head coach believes it’s premature to make anything of Winslow’s recent encouraging games, per “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz.”
“We’re now going to judge this guy on three games instead of what we’ve seen the rest of this season, let alone the seasons before?” Van Gundy said last week. “Let’s let this at least go to 20 games before all of a sudden we’re changing our lineups because of Justise Winslow’s ‘greatness.’”
Winslow, 22, has been playing some of the best basketball of his career as of late. During the first three games of the Heat’s recent West Coast road trip, the 6-foot-7 small forward averaged 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game.
While those numbers ended up going down in his three most recent performances, it was great for Heat fans to see Winslow string several great performances together. In fact, that was the first time Winslow had three consecutive 20-plus point games in his career.
“It’s going to take more than three games for me or anyone else in the league to buy it,” Van Gundy said. “What we’ve seen in [those three games] — the shooting, even the creative ability to initiate offense, and even make plays for other people, we haven’t seen that in his previous three and a quarter years.”
Following the scoring outburst, Winslow scored a disheartening nine, four and two points in the next three games. While Van Gundy seemingly predicted his return to less impressive play, the Heat have no better option but to continue to develop the youngster. With no superstars on the roster and franchise icon Dwyane Wade nearing retirement, the Heat need the 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft to live up to his expectations.
Although Winslow hasn’t been abysmal his entire career, the forward certainly hasn’t been a game-changer for the Heat. Despite the subpar play in his first three years in the league, the Duke University product was signed to a three-year contract extension worth $39 million before the 2018-19 season began.
Of course, Van Gundy wasn’t a fan of the production Winslow put up, nor the hefty reward he received afterwards.
“He was very bad as a starter when he had to play against frontline guys. When he’s had to be out there throughout his career, his plus/minus has been as bad as his shooting stats,” Van Gundy said. “Hopefully he can keep [this] up, just to becoming an average offensive player in the NBA; he’s never been close to that to this point. [And as a trade chip], I’m not sure $13 million a year, anyone is buying into that after three years. Will at least be a good rotation player, so he does have some value.”
In his fourth year in the association, Winslow is averaging 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season.