Justise Winslow has already shown signs of being a lockdown defender through the first seven games of his career, Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald reports. Navarro cites advanced metrics to illustrate Winslow’s prowess, pointing out that among players to defend at least 50 field goal attempts, the Heat small forward ranks tied for third in the league in defensive field goal percentage (32.8%). He’s also holding opponents to 21.1% shooting from 15 feet or deeper. “You always want to kind of be easy on the rookies, but he is raising the bar every game with his maturity and ability and knack to play defense,” Heat power forward Chris Bosh told Navarro. “I’ve never seen anything like it as long as I’ve been in this league from a rookie. He’s not making many mistakes. He’s playing solid defense. He’s already built like a tank. Him just being able to move his feet is helping us out a lot.”
In other news around the Southeast Division:
- Gerald Green is expected to return to the Heat soon, a source told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, even as the team remains tight-lipped about his status, other than to say that he’s safe and healthy. Green is reportedly out of the hospital following an incident last week that apparently left him bleeding and unconscious.
- The pattern of NBA coaching tenures for Scott Skiles suggests he’ll help the Magic improve for a short while before wearing out his welcome and giving way to another coach who can take the next step, but none of his successors guided his old teams to championships, notes Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. Skiles has also had the opportunity to learn from his mistakes to better prepare for his latest gig, Aschburner writes.
- Evan Fournier, a restricted free agent after the season, could determine the direction of the Magic franchise, Keith P. Smith of RealGM.com opines in a detailed examination of the team’s roster. Fournier, who failed to reach an rookie scale extension agreement with the club before the Nov. 2 deadline, is attacking the rim with greater force, finishing through contact and drawing more fouls this season, Smith continues. He’s also been very active as a perimeter defender and that’s why the swingman’s decision next summer could impact his team more than any other free agent besides Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Mike Conley, Smith adds.