Justise Winslow working on cleaning up jump shot this summer

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Playing in both the Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, Justise Winslow showed some flashes of why he felt like a steal for Miami at No. 10. You could see the athleticism on both ends of the floor, he played at pace but under control, he had solid handles, and he knew how to attack the rim and use his body to draw calls.

But his shot needed work. He hit just 34.2 percent overall and 25 percent from three (3-of-12) across the two summer leagues. There seemed to be a little hitch in his release.

That’s what he’s been working on with Heat coaches through the rest of the summer, Winslow told the Miami Herald.

“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 the ball fairly well at Duke (41 percent from three) and was impressive in the tournament, but he needs to clean everything up now that defenders are faster and longer.

Winslow is should get plenty of run off the bench for the Heat this season, and in a system that suits his strengths. He’s probably not going to get the touches needed to get the numbers for Rookie of the Year (not with Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay getting the keys to their respective franchises) but he’s going to look good fast. And get better from there.

So long as that shot starts to fall.

Justise Winslow reportedly aced pre-draft interviews. So why did he fall?

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Our own Scott Dargis described Justise Winslow’s draft range as the Knicks at No. 4 through the Heat at No. 10, but it’s difficult  to find others who thought there was even a chance Winslow would fall all the way to Miami.

Here’s how a few rated the Duke forward:

Most seemed to agree he was a clear tier above the players below him on those lists, too.

But Winslow slipped to the Heat at No. 10.

What did NBA teams see that so many of us didn’t?

Whatever it was, it apparently didn’t come out during pre-draft interviews.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

Twenty-nine teams rolled their eyes in June when Justise Winslow fell to Miami at no. 10 in the draft. Winslow may never become a star, but he has a chance at it, and he blew away executives during the draft interview process.

Lowe is plugged in enough to know how teams perceived Winslow’s interviews. I believe, if there were a major red flag, it didn’t pop up there.

My working theory: The NBA consensus on Winslow was about as high as perceived – and if not quite, within the reasonable margin for error – but the teams picking before the Heat just happened not to like him as much.

Taking Winslow No. 4 would have been too high, and the Knicks made a better call with Kristaps Porzingis. I wasn’t as high on Hezonja as most, but few complained about the Magic taking him at No. 5. Admittedly, his upside is incredible. If a team has an appetite for risk, Hezonja made sense over the safer Winslow.

With respect to Winslow, it really got interesting at No. 6.

The Kings, who picked Willie Cauley-Stein at No. 6, deserve little benefit of the doubt for their drafting acumen. I rated Emmanuel Mudiay higher than Winslow, so I don’t knock Denver for picking the point guard at No. 7. The Pistons took Stanley Johnson over Winslow at No. 8, but that could just be a minority opinion. The Hornets are clearly in win-now mode, so polished senior Frank Kaminsky appealed to them at No. 9. Plus, Michael Jordan is hardly a reputable drafter.

So, a few teams didn’t like Winslow. It doesn’t mean the NBA as a whole thought less of him than it appeared.

If the Celtics were drafting before Miami, they would have taken him – and they offered a boatload of draft picks for that opportunity. I suspect many other teams would have drafted him sooner if positioned to do so.

Maybe something will emerge about why Winslow fell, but it darn sure wasn’t how he played at Duke, and it apparently wasn’t his pre-draft interviews. We’re running out of possibilities.

Miami’s Justise Winslow signs with Adidas

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Adidas may be getting out of the NBA uniform game, but they are opening up the checkbook to stock their roster with quality players that will get the public’s eye. Most notable this summer, they landed James Harden, pulling him away from Nike. He joins stars such as Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, and John Wall, not to mention up-and-coming players such as Andrew Wiggins.

Now you can add Justise Winslow to the mix.

The No. 10 pick of the Miami Heat, he signed a shoe deal with Adidas, the company announced.

“I’m excited to be a part of adidas,” said Winslow. “I loved playing in their basketball shoes at adidas Nations and what they’ve been doing with Kanye and Originals is changing the game. I pride myself in being the best player on the court and having unique style off it and adidas will definitely help me do both.”

Adidas Nations is the shoe brand’s big annual high school player camp and games, where many of the nation’s top young ballers come play.

Winslow looked good at that game, then in the draft landed in a spot where he should get some run and be a key part of what the Heat do this season. Winslow’s game showed it needs work at Summer League, but his athleticism and defense are things Erik Spoelstra will put to use well off the bench immediately. Plus he can dunk and will show up on some highlights from the start. He could grow into a quality player in a popular market.

Which is just what Adidas is looking for.

 

Report: Michael Jordan shot down Boston draft-day effort to get Charlotte No. 9 pick

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It’s a common practice in the NFL draft: Teams trade down to get multiple picks. The move is almost always seen as smart. For the NFL’s annual war of attrition, having the extra bodies makes a lot of sense.

You don’t see it much in the NBA for a reason — you only have a 15-man roster and only nine of them likely play on a given night. Talent wins out, and the talent drop off going down even five or six picks can be steep. If you can get a potential star with your draft pick, you take it, he will matter far more than two guys who may be guys nine and 12 on the bench. However, there are times trading down makes sense in the NBA, if you don’t think you’re getting that star.

That was the situation facing the Hornets in this past draft. They had the No. 9 pick, and Boston wanted it (for Justise Winslow, reportedly, who fell to Miami at No. 10). Boston came knocking on Charlotte’s door with a bevy of picks, and there was a split in Charlotte about whether this was a good idea, reports Zach Lowe at Grantland. For the first time, we know what was offered, and it’s pretty impressive.

Michael Jordan was the ultimate decision maker.

The Celtics offered four first-round picks for the chance to move up from no. 16 to no. 9: that 16th pick, no. 15 (acquired in a prearranged contingency deal with the Hawks), one unprotected future Brooklyn pick, and a future first-rounder from either the Grizzlies or Timberwolves, per sources familiar with the talks.

Some members of Charlotte’s front office liked the Boston deal, but Michael Jordan, the team’s owner and ultimate decision-maker, preferred Kaminsky to a pile of first-rounders outside the lottery, per several sources.

source: Getty ImagesThe bet Jordan made was that Kaminsky is a star. Except nobody projects him that way. He’s a quality big who can pick-and-pop and be part of the rotations, sure. He’s a solid pick. But is he better than four first round picks for a Charlotte team that needs way more talent on the roster?

This feels like something that has happened in Charlotte before: Jordan watches a lot of the NCAA tournament, falls in love with a player who performs well (Kaminsky) and hijacks the draft process. The Hornets will deny this, but it’s how it looks from the outside.

At the No. 15 and 16 picks in this draft, Kelly Oubre and Terry Rozier were taken, although guys such as Jerian Grant, Bobby Portis, and Sam Dekker were still on the board. Kaminsky is more valuable than one of them, but will he ultimately produce more than two of those guys? Plus two future picks? Not likely. Charlotte is stuck in the rut of mediocrity in the East, picking Kaminsky doesn’t move them out of this lane. Do those four picks? Maybe not, but it’s a path, a chance.

Charlotte’s decision makers defended their choice.

“You have two minutes to decide: ‘Do I want to do this trade?’” says (Curtis) Polk, one of five men atop Charlotte’s decision tree. “You don’t have a day. You don’t have hours. After all the intelligence we’d done, we were comfortable with Frank. But now you have two minutes to decide if you make this trade, who you’re gonna take at no. 16, or maybe no. 20, and we haven’t been focusing on that range. In fantasy basketball, it sounds great: ‘Oh my god, they could have gotten all those picks.’ But in the real world, I’m not sure it makes us better.”

Adds Rich Cho, the team’s GM: “If it was such a no-brainer for us, why would another team want to do it?”

Because Boston saw Winslow as a star, and at a position they need help.

On draft night when this came up and the rumors flew around that four picks were being offered, I said it’s tough to say what to do because we didn’t know what the picks were, how far out and how protected. Now that we do… if I were in the Charlotte decision tree I would have pushed to make the deal.

Now we all wait three years and then can look back to see who might have been right. It would have been a difficult decision in the moment, but I’m not sure Charlotte made the right call.

James Ennis allows Heat to push back decision on him until opening night

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The Miami Heat had until Saturday to make a decision on James Ennis: Guarantee his $845,000 contract for next season or buy him out for half.

The Heat wanted more time. Ennis gave it to them.

Ennis and the Heat are modifying his contract to allow Miami to put off that decision until opening night. Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel breaks it down.

“…two sources involved in the process told the Sun Sentinel that the contract will be modified with no decision required until the eve of the season, when the Heat will have to decide to guarantee his salary for all of 2015-16…..

“The move with Ennis effectively eliminates Saturday as a contract deadline for the Heat. Forward Henry Walker, who had such a partial-guarantee deadline, was waived Monday. The partial guarantees for center Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson for Aug. 1 will be paid as scheduled on Saturday.”

Why would Ennis do that? Because he wants to make the team and he might not like the decision made Saturday.

Ennis showed an ability to finish at the rim and play a little defense as a rookie, but his play through the season was uneven, and he shot just 32 percent from three. Not ideal for a “3&D” guy. Then in Summer League he tried to play through an injury, but he shot just 30 percent overall and 11 percent from three.

I’m biased. I’m a Long Beach State guy, I’ve had season tickets for years, I watched Ennis through college. I want him to stick, prove he can play at this level.

But the Heat have Luol Deng and drafted Justise Winslow as the future at the three. Ennis is going to have to flat out ball in training camp to prove to the Heat he can be part of their future. He’s going to have to show growth in his game that was not evident in Summer League.