5 former Heat players to sign on veteran minimum deals, ranked

Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Justise Winslow (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Justise Winslow (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

No. 3 former Heat player turned free agent: Justise Winslow

Justise Winslow was a regular in the Blazers’ rotation last season before suffering a Grade 2 ankle sprain in December. The subsequent surgery ended his season prematurely; he watched from the sidelines as Portland traded for Matisse Thybulle and Cam Reddish.

Those moves effectively ended the Winslow era in Portland. The Blazers now pivot towards a rebuild with one of the best young backcourts in the NBA and the impending arrival of a Damian Lillard trade package that could deliver more young talent to the roster. Winslow will search for a new home to make his comeback.

It’s not unreasonable to buy Winslow stock. He averaged 26.8 minutes per game for Portland before the injury, and that was when the Blazers still had allusions of contending with Dame. Winslow is a bulky, versatile wing defender with an interesting offensive skill set. What he lacks in reliable 3-point shooting (31.5 percent for his career), the Duke product makes up for with real playmaking ability and the strength to absorb contact on finishes at the rim.

Surround Winslow with shooters and another reliable playmaker, and he has real utility for a winning team. He’s not a primary ball-handler, but he can connect dots as a willing passer and driver who’s never picked on defensively. He really doesn’t have much equity as a scorer (43.8 percent on 2-point shots last season; there’s a difference between driving and finishing), but Winslow has myriad role player traits worthy of investment. It’s mostly a matter of how confident teams are in the ankle.