Heat staffer says Justise Winslow is making major strides with his jumper

Justise Winslow's rookie season was promising. Almost no 19-year-olds help their team defensively, but Winslow did that for the Miami Heat immediately. Coach Erik Spoelstra sometimes asked him to defend point guards, and in the second round of the playoffs, the 6-foot-7 Winslow found himself playing center. He has a bright future, and with the departure of Dwyane Wade, he is expected to take on a much larger offensive role next season.

The catch: his jumper. Last season he hurt Miami's spacing in the half-court, making only 31.1 percent of his jump shots, per Synergy Sports. Defenses ignored him on the perimeter and he routinely passed up open looks. That's why it's notable that the Heat are happy with his development as a shooter this summer, per the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson:

The Heat is very encouraged by the progress Justise Winslow has made while working with a shooting specialist this summer. One Heat staffer said his stroke, release and rhythm are looking a lot better.

"You will see a major difference; he can be a special player," that person said.

Winslow declined to identify the shooting coach but said he is "pretty pleased" with the results and that he's working on his jumper during the early mornings and late at night.

The coach has made mechanical changes to his stroke, Winslow said: "Just smoothing things out. I am pretty confident. I like the way it's going."

Justise Winslow warms up before a playoff game
Justise Winslow is working on becoming a complete player. USATSI

Winslow shot just 27.6 percent from behind the 3-point line and 68.4 percent from the free-throw line as a rookie. Usually, when you see numbers like that, it means that fixing the form will be a multi-year process. It's not just a mechanical thing, either -- beyond the shooting motion being second nature, players need to develop confidence in taking and making shots in games.

If Winslow is suddenly a reliable 3-point shooter in his second season, he will be the exception, not the rule. Progress is crucial, though, and it should help that there will be more opportunities for him this time around. It can be difficult to get in rhythm when you're not often touching the ball.

When Winslow fell to No. 10 in the 2015 draft, the Heat were lucky. How lucky they were, though, remains to be seen. If he just becomes an average offensive player, then he's going to help them win games for a long time. If he becomes a dangerous offensive player, then he could be a star. A "major difference" in his stroke could be an overstatement, or it could be the start of something special.

CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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