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Justise Winslow’s versatility — on both ends — makes him an ideal fit in Memphis

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https://theathletic.com/1762240/2020/04/22/grizzlies-film-study-justise-winslow-a-perfect-fit-in-memphis/

Justise Winslow’s debut with the Grizzlies — as with so many things sports-related amid a pandemic — is being delayed indefinitely. The logic surrounding his acquisition remains as sound as ever, but at this point, we can only speculate about the fit with his new team.

Winslow, who turned 24 in late March, is the type of player executive vice president of basketball operations Zach Kleiman wants to add to the Grizzlies’ core. You can envision a starting five of Winslow, Ja Morant (20), Jaren Jackson Jr. (20), Brandon Clarke (23) and Dillon Brooks (24) — a group with compatible playing styles, with Winslow adding a defensive presence and physicality to the wing positions that the Grizzlies have lacked. Winslow could be asked to play power forward quite a bit, though it would appear the Grizzlies see him as a small forward for the foreseeable future.

That brings up an interesting aspect of Winslow’s potential. He spent the first three years of his career in Miami playing interchangeably at the three and four spots. But during parts of the 2018-19 season, Winslow handled some point-guard duties (due, in part, to an injury to Goran Dragic) and showed an increased ability to score and to create for teammates. He began the 2019-20 season as the Heat’s point guard and — before his injury — shared the backcourt with rookie Kendrick Nunn.

The Grizzlies opened with the Heat last October, and Winslow gave Morant a rookie wake-up call:

 

Morant came out of the gate talking to opponents and playing without fear. He drove right at Bam Adebayo, scored and flexed in celebration. Two possessions later, Winslow reminded Morant of what NBA strength can look like. Winslow outweighs Morant by about 50 pounds, and it showed as he bullied Morant right under the basket, scored and flexed right back at the rookie. Winslow finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a dominant showing.

A back injury derailed Winslow’s season just weeks later and added to a growing list of maladies (knee, ankle) that have hindered his career. He played just 11 games this season and only 18 in 2016-17, and he missed parts of the previous two seasons as well. The Grizzlies are confident his injury history is more bad luck than a bad body, but it likely played a part in his availability at the deadline.

He was set to make his debut with the Grizzlies at Portland on March 12, but the NBA season was suspended the day before. Now, like everything and everyone, he’s in a holding pattern.

It’s easy to see why the Grizzlies wanted to acquire Winslow. His ability as a ballhandler and his growing capability in creating for others make him a perfect fit for Taylor Jenkins’ movement-rich, high-tempo offense. He can play alongside Morant, as he did Nunn, with both players capable of starting and finishing plays. Morant will clearly have the ball in his hands more than Winslow, but Jenkins loves to play with multiple passing weapons. The Grizzlies increasingly tried to employ Morant as an off-ball threat, hoping to deliver the ball to him cutting toward the basket to better leverage his otherworldly athleticism. Winslow will provide another avenue to help make that happen.

 

Winslow’s overall shooting numbers — 38.8 percent from the field this year, 41.7 percent for his career — would suggest he is a poor shooter, but a closer look indicates that might not necessarily be true. Per Synergy, when taking unguarded catch-and-shoot jump shots — the type that effective dribble penetration can create — Winslow progressed from shooting 36.5 percent in 2017-18 to 50.8 percent in 2018-19. The figure from 2018-19 ranked eighth in the NBA (minimum of 75 attempts), behind players such as Danny Green, Steph Curry and Mike Conley. To put that in further perspective, Jackson shot 47 percent in those situations, and he’s considered to be an elite outside shooter.

Those numbers are for stand-still jumpers. On the move, Winslow’s offense is still a work in progress. He’s consistently been among the lowest-ranked players in shooting off the dribble, meaning that when he’s attacking a closeout, he’s much more of a threat as a passer than as a scorer. His strength allows him to get to the basket with ease, but that hasn’t translated to efficient numbers at the rim and in the paint. If he could improve to just average in those two areas, his offensive game would be greatly enhanced.

Winslow is a far more complete player on the other side of the court and an ideal fit in a Grizzlies system that encourages frequent switching and calls for players to defend multiple positions. He can do that with ease — he uses his strength to handle bigger players on the block and can corral smaller guards on the perimeter, on the same possession, thanks to slick footwork and great anticipation.

In each of his five seasons, Winslow has rated as a top-tier defender in several metrics. The Heat allowed eight fewer points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor last year; that number has consistently been between three and eight points throughout his career. In addition, his ability to defensive rebound at a high level helps keep opponents off the offensive glass.

 

Winslow was targeted specifically by Kleiman and the Grizzlies, not just because of the characteristics he’s shown on the court but also because he matches the team’s identity off it. He is a ferocious competitor and plays with a high basketball IQ. He makes what his former coach Erik Spoelstra called “winning plays” — a term his new coach likes to use as well. The Grizzlies sacrificed cap space this summer to execute the Winslow trade, and they were willing to do so because he fits their criteria so perfectly. It didn’t hurt that Winslow has a team-friendly contract — $13 million this year and next, with a team option of $13 million in 2021-22. For a player of his caliber, that’s a sound investment.

Winslow could quickly become a fan favorite. He combines classic “grit-and-grind” defense with a taste of modern offense. It’s hard for fans to wait, harder still for his teammates, but his time will eventually come in Memphis. Patience is a virtue, but rarely have people been asked to be as virtuous as they are these days.

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He’s basically a more athletic Kyle Anderson 

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16 hours ago, Grizzfan7979 said:

are we sure he'll be healthy even if the season resumes this year?

Theoretically. He was going to debut the next game before the season was halted. Now he's had another month and a half to heal up. 

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He is talented no doubt. I  do hope all thos injury are just bad luck as he is still young. If he is healthy, then we make a fantastic deal. Hope we can see a bit of him play this year.

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On 4/24/2020 at 11:09 AM, Allen said:

He’s basically a more athletic Kyle Anderson 

Except Kyle can shoot ligh......nm he cant. 

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"You can envision a starting five of Winslow, Ja Morant (20), Jaren Jackson Jr. (20), Brandon Clarke (23) and Dillon Brooks (24) — a group with compatible playing styles, with Winslow adding a defensive presence and physicality to the wing positions that the Grizzlies have lacked."

What does JV have to do to get people to stop trying to push him out of the starting lineup? I could understand it if JJJ were grabbing 10 boards per game and looking like he was ready to be the starting center, but he isn't and doesn't, he looks best as a power forward right now. I could understand it if JV's presence was obviously slowing the team down and holding them back, but the team has far exceeded any expectations anyone had for this season, and did it with JV as the starting center. He is the backbone of this team, he deserves some respect. 

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11 hours ago, KyleB said:

"You can envision a starting five of Winslow, Ja Morant (20), Jaren Jackson Jr. (20), Brandon Clarke (23) and Dillon Brooks (24) — a group with compatible playing styles, with Winslow adding a defensive presence and physicality to the wing positions that the Grizzlies have lacked."

What does JV have to do to get people to stop trying to push him out of the starting lineup? I could understand it if JJJ were grabbing 10 boards per game and looking like he was ready to be the starting center, but he isn't and doesn't, he looks best as a power forward right now. I could understand it if JV's presence was obviously slowing the team down and holding them back, but the team has far exceeded any expectations anyone had for this season, and did it with JV as the starting center. He is the backbone of this team, he deserves some respect. 

Agree Jaren is not a Center and Jonas is still heavily affective when used correctly. 
Honestly we need a lethal two guard my hope is Zach LaVine 

Ja/Zach/Justice/J3/Jonas

Tyus/Dillion/Josh/BC/Dieng

Melton/Grayson/Gudurić/filler/Porter

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1 hour ago, QMemphis said:

Agree Jaren is not a Center and Jonas is still heavily affective when used correctly. 
Honestly we need a lethal two guard my hope is Zach LaVine 

Ja/Zach/Justice/J3/Jonas

Tyus/Dillion/Josh/BC/Dieng

Melton/Grayson/Gudurić/filler/Porter

We really need a SG that can shoot 

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12 hours ago, grizzgolf said:

We really need a SG that can shoot 

Or a 3.  Dillon is good at the 2.  But yeah get some wings who can shoot.  That’s probably what we need to go for in the draft.  I also like Markus Howard — he’s tiny and not a great defender but he can really, really shoot.  Markus and Ja in the backcourt would be unstoppable on offense.  Markus Howard looks like the best 6th man type in this draft.  

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17 hours ago, grizzgolf said:

We really need a SG that can shoot 

Zach can definitely shoot and with the Bulls change in management they may be looking to trade him this offseason. Another possibility would be Kenard from Detroit but I would rather go with the legit scorer in LaVine. 

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