Miami Heat: 4 crunch time lineups for the 2017-18 season

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 11: Bam Adebayo
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 11: Bam Adebayo /
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KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 8: Justise Winslow
KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 8: Justise Winslow /

Justise Winslow-Wayne Ellington-Tyler Johnson-Josh Richardson-Kelly Olynyk

One of the emerging storylines in the preseason is just how the Heat will use Justise Winslow when the games start to count. Already, we’ve seen him in a variety of roles including the primary ball-handler, offense-initiator and top scoring option, all with varying degrees of success.

It appears the best way to use Winslow, at least initially, is as the facilitator. As the Heat saw last night when Winslow flirted with a triple-double against the Washington Wizards, he thrives in the pick-and-roll game, where he is afforded the offensive space to find the open man. Several of his nine assists on the night came late in the game, as he fired passes all over the floor to create open shots for teammates.

Down the stretch of a game, an effective use of Winslow is to have him lead a shooting-heavy lineup that doesn’t give up much defensively. While smaller, letting Winslow operate with Ellington, Tyler Johnson, Richardson and Olynyk, gives him the type of offensive space that will maximize his current set of skills.

Defensively, this lineup is just as tenacious as any the Heat could put on the floor, despite not having a true center on the court. Richardson and Tyler Johnson are two of the very best perimeter defenders on the roster. And Winslow, at least by year’s end, could be the Heat’s best overall defender.

The Winslow experiment will be a delicate one as the year goes on, but throughout the preseason, when given the keys to the offense, he has created points even if he isn’t the one doing the scoring.

Variation: For even more defense, switch Ellington with Waiters.