Expectations for 20-year-old forward Justise Winslow are soaring. Can he live up to them in 2016-17 (Erik Drost/Creative Commons)?

Expectations for 20-year-old forward Justise Winslow are soaring. Can he live up to them in 2016-17 (Erik Drost/Creative Commons)?

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In the first team-focused interview of the season, Slice Miami’Josh Baumgard makes On the NBA Beat history by becoming the first guest to appear three times, and the third time was certainly a charm (as were the first two). In this Miami Heat-themed episode, he gushes about the monstrous numbers Hassan Whiteside has the potential to post as the focal point of Miami’s offense. Baumgard also waxes nostalgic and practical about the ramifications of Dwyane Wade’s departure after 13 seasons as the franchise cornerstone. Plus, along with a range of other timely topics, he explains how Miami’s already stout defense can be even stronger this upcoming season. Scan some scorching excerpts below:

2:58-3:10 As the episode title suggests, second-year wing Justise Winslow will make or break Miami’s season, according to Baumgard: “I think he’s the key to the whole season. I think he’s the difference between whether they’re gonna be a 35-win team or a 45-win team. You’ve got to see some offensive improvement out of him, and I think with the increased role he’s ready for it.”

5:50-6:22 “That’s gonna be huge, because if he can develop a consistent jump shot, the defense is gonna play closer to him; that’s gonna open up driving lanes. And as we saw in the preseason, he’s a pretty good ball handler and he’s a very underrated passer. I think he can find guys in the corner for those open 3s, so, again, I think it goes back to Winslow. If he’s able to create some offense behind Goran Dragic, it’s gonna ease the burden on them scoring, because they’re likely not gonna be a great offensive team, but if they’re at least better than average, I think that bodes really well for their playoff chances.” Continue reading