Justise Winslow Snared by Miami Heat With No. 10 Pick

Justise Winslow won a national championship in his lone season at Duke. He's helped USA Basketball win international gold medals in each of the last three years. He scored more than 3,000 points in high school.

The Miami Heat think his winning track will continue at the next level.

The Heat grabbed Winslow — a 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward and a top-five talent on many boards — with the No. 10 pick in Thursday's NBA draft, the first official step the team is taking in what's expected to be a hectic summer of roster reloading.

"I want to win right now," Winslow said, "and that's what the Heat want."

Such was made clear to him in his first talk with Heat President Pat Riley on Thursday night after the pick was made. Winslow didn't even work out for Miami in the weeks leading up to the draft, which wasn't necessarily surprising considering that most draftniks thought he would be long gone by the time the Heat got around to making their selection.

"We didn't think he would be there at 10," Riley said.

But they knew his talent, and knew they couldn't pass it up.

"Pat Riley, he's not trying to rebuild or look down the line, he's focused on right now," Winslow said. "That's something that really intrigues me and motivates me. I don't want to look a couple years down the line. I want to win now. And so to be a part of an organization with a leader like that is something that I really like."

The on-court leader of the Heat, that's a murky issue these days.

Dwyane Wade's future is unclear. He has a $16.1 million option for next season. He will likely become a free agent and seek a new home if he and the Heat — who aren't eye-to-eye on anything right now on a new deal — can't work something out. It could mean a 12-year tenure in Miami that has seen him transform from skinny rookie to a three-time-champion and face of the franchise might be ending.

"We respect him. We want him back," Riley said. "We want him here for the rest of his career. We're going to do all we can to make that happen."

Winslow doesn't sound worried, calling Wade "one of the greatest" and saying he was eager to learn all he can from Miami's all-time leading scorer.

Luol Deng also has a player option and Goran Dragic will become a free agent. Re-signing Dragic has to be a priority after giving up two draft picks to acquire him midway through this past season.

"Very excited to have you!" Heat forward Chris Bosh wrote to Winslow on Twitter shortly after the pick was made, adding the words "we got a good one" in a hashtag. Bosh wasn't alone in that thinking; fans watching at a draft party at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami roared in delight when Winslow's selection was announced.

When the stakes were highest this past season, Winslow was at his best.

He averaged 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals during the NCAA Tournament run, shooting 51 percent in those games. For the season, he averaged 12.6 points per game.

"He had a sensational year, both on and off the court," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in April when Winslow declared for the draft. "He was an amazing factor for our success in winning the national championship. From everything we have found out, Justise is projected to be a high lottery pick and we believe that to be true."

But the first nine teams passed on him, and the Heat ensured he wouldn't fall any farther.

"You can say it's a blessing in disguise," Winslow said about falling to Miami. "But I see it as a blessing, nothing disguised about it."

It's the latest tie between the Heat and Duke.

Heat CEO Nick Arison was a manager for Krzyzewski's teams when he was a student at Duke, and Miami already had two former Blue Devils — Deng and Josh McRoberts — on their roster. Another former Duke player, Andre Dawkins, was with the Heat briefly last season.

Other former Duke stars who spent time with the Heat include Shane Battier (part of Miami's championships in 2012 and 2013), Christian Laettner, Antonio Lang and Shavlik Randolph.

"Absolutely love the pick," Battier wrote on Twitter, adding that Winslow in his eyes is a "worker and a competitor and a Champion most importantly."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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