Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow is making a comeback

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 1: Justise Winslow
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 1: Justise Winslow /

Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow may have the cards stacked against him, but he’s going to prove everyone wrong.

The Miami Heat are happy to have No. 20 back in their lineup, and his road to redemption starts now.

Forward Justise Winslow is ready to start fresh after an injury year last season, that held him to compete in only18 games. His frustration, as you could imagine, was on full display during the second half of the season; the sophomore could only motivate and cheer his teammates on from the bench, as he had to recover from shoulder surgery.

But after close to eight months of rehabilitation, he feels great and he is back on track. Now, all he needs to do is acclimate to his new role with this second unit.

Winslow has always been a defensive-minded gem with enormous upside, that honestly only lacks an outside shot. As for his overall athleticism, it mirrors the skillset that made Kawhi Leonard an All-Star. He just needs to perfect it.

Last year, the Duke standout was averaging 10.9 points on 35.6 percent shooting. This year he looks to increase that average, while adjusting his 3-point range. Last season, he was at an awful 20 percent, ranking him in the bottom half for any small forward. He knows his game isn’t at the prestige level he envisions it, but has a unique window of opportunity to bounce back. And at just 21, it is the perfect time to start.

So far this preseason, he is getting back into the groove of things. In the first two games versus the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets, Winslow saw an average of 20 minutes per game, in a new role off the bench that seems  will benefit him.

Against the Hawks, he recorded 6 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists in 22 minutes. And on Thursday versus the Nets, he totaled 8 points, 1 rebound, and 3 assists in 19 minutes. He looked good, too.

With the Heat using preseason to make strides as a collective group with incredible depth, they need Winslow to be the leader off the bench. As a former starter, Winslow has shifted positions to better understand what he can bring to the table. And with technically two years now under his belt, his time is now.

His outside shot is the major question mark that eludes his game though. His perimeter and 3-point shot are the difference makers, that will separate his play from the rest. It is what he needs to focus on, in order to convert Miami into one of the best and deepest benches in the Eastern Conference.

He needs to play to his strengths now, more than ever, and has been training for his return in the offseason. With his mindset in place, he finally has that opportunity to flourish in those key areas of weakness. Doing so will turn his overall game around, and allow him to become that elite player off the bench that Miami will definitely turn to, down the stretch.

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It’s comeback season.