Duke Basketball: Justise Winslow has his highest-scoring game since 2016

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

On Friday, a former title-winning forward for the Duke basketball program had his best scoring night as a professional in almost two years.

Remember, former Duke basketball player Justise Winslow is only 22 years old. Months after he helped the Blue Devils win their fifth national championship, the Miami Heat selected the one-and-done forward 10th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

And although the 6-foot-7, 225-pound Houston native has not had an ideal level of consistency since entering the league — he’s averaging just 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds for his career and has appeared in only slightly more than half of the Heat’s games since 2015 — a slew of injuries is at least partially to blame for his less-than-stellar output.

But the lefty is healthy now. And it’s starting to show.

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During the 10-14 Heat’s 115-98 win at Phoenix on Friday night, Winslow scored 20 points, his highest output since scoring 23 points in a home win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 22, 2016. His point total on Friday is also tied for the second highest of his career and marks the most he has ever scored on the road.

And he did it in an efficient fashion. Winslow, who has started nine games this season but came off the bench against the Suns, was 7-for-8 from the field and 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. His stat line also included eight rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a block in 31 minutes on the floor.

Across the 20 games in which he has seen action this season — he missed the first four games due to injury — Winslow is averaging 9.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.

And he has scored in double figures in six of the Heat’s past eight games. Also, over the course of his past five games, he has averaged 12.8 points while shooting 60 percent (9-for-15) from downtown.

And that’s more like the version of Winslow that Duke basketball fans expected to see after he entered the league.

During his one season in Durham — he started all 39 games for the Blue Devils as they went 35-4 and cut down the nets in Indianapolis — the freshman forward averaged 12.6 points, 6.5 boards, 2.1 assists, and 1.3 steals in just 29.1 minutes per game. And during the 2015 NCAA Tournament, he nearly averaged a double-double (14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds).

So what’s next for Winslow? Only time — he has plenty of that left in his career — will tell, but don’t be surprised if his best days (hopefully his healthiest) are ahead.

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Stay tuned to Ball Durham all season for coverage of highlight performances by former Blue Devils playing in the NBA.