3 takeaways from Heat scrimmage: Justise Winslow shows off versatility, Kelly Olynyk impresses, Dion Waiters looks healthy

BOCA RATON — Just like that, the preseason is here.

The Heat finished off their week of training camp practices with the “Red, White & Pink” Game on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at FAU Arena, with proceeds from the intrasquad scrimmage benefiting Miami Cancer Institute. The game didn’t feature a final score, as players switched between teams throughout the four quarters.

But there were final stats for each player. Rodney McGruder led all scorers with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and Dion Waiters was right behind him with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters (11) drives the basket against Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) during a scrimmage at FAU in Boca Raton, Florida on September 30, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Starting point guard Goran Dragic participated in the scrimmage and finished with two points and three assists, but he played limited minutes as the Heat continue to manage his preseason workload after leading Slovenia to EuroBasket gold this summer.

Josh Richardson, who finished with eight points and three rebounds, suffered a bloody nose after Kelly Olynyk hit him in the face. But Richardson said he will be fine for Sunday’s preseason opener against the Hawks at AmericanAirlines Arena.

[RELATED: Photo gallery from the Miami Heat’s scrimmage at FAU]

Here are our three takeaways from the scrimmage …

Justise Winslow, the power forward?: Over the first two seasons of his NBA career, Winslow spent 79 percent of his minutes at small forward, according to Basketball Reference. And a lot of the conversation entering training camp has been about the competition for the Heat’s starting small forward job between Rodney McGruder, Josh Richardson and Winslow. But in Saturday’s scrimmage, Winslow started at power forward for the White team. Winslow was matched up against James Johnson, who started at power forward for the Red team. Later in the scrimmage, Winslow saw playing time against power forward Okaro White. Winslow finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 0-of-1 from 3-point range, and nine rebounds.

“It just depends on the matchup,” Winslow said when asked what he brings to the power forward position. “There are different fours around the league, some are smaller, some are bigger, some are shooters, some are more mid-range post ups guys. It just depends on the matchup. I would like to think I’ll be quicker and a little bit more athletic than most fours. For me, I’m lighter but I’m still just as strong and so I feel great, I feel like I can bang down there and also go out and guard a point guard.”

This doesn’t mean Winslow is out of the running for the starting small forward spot, but it gives us a glimpse into Erik Spoelstra’s thinking. It’s no secret that Winslow has struggled with his outside shot, as he’s a career 25.8 percent 3-point shooter. Maybe this is the Heat’s way of bringing Winslow’s game closer to the basket. At 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, Winslow is smaller than most power forwards. But his physical style on both ends should help him. Johnson is expected to start at the four, but don’t be surprised to see Winslow as his backup this season.

“You can see that he brings something that’s unique, his aggressiveness off the dribble in transition as a runner,” Spoelstra said of Winslow, who dropped about 10 pounds this offseason. “He’s an energy player. Defensively, [he can guard] one through four. So his game is about speed, physicality. He lost some weight and that makes him even quicker in all those areas in the open court and in random situations.”

Keep an eye on Kelly Olynyk: By now, you know the Heat like Olynyk’s skill set. A big man who can help facilitate the offense as a passer and can also knock down threes. He showed those skills off in the scrimmage, finishing with 13 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Despite playing primarily as a center, Olynyk stretched the floor with five 3-point shot attempts. He also played tough defense on center Hassan Whiteside. The Heat are excited about Olynyk’s potential in Spoelstra’s positionless system. His ability to pass and shoot gives Miami a totally different look when Whiteside leaves the game. And even when Whiteside is on the court, Spoelstra can play the skilled Olynyk at power forward to throw out a big lineup featuring two 7-footers.

“Really, to be fair, we’re getting to know him and we want to be open to his skill set,” Spoelstra said of Olynyk. “We want to challenge ourselves to be able to utilize that versatility in as many dynamic ways as possible, but to do it at a healthy rate. … But certainly encouraged in all the different areas he can be effective on the board.”

What sore ankle?: Ever since Dion Waiters mentioned during Monday’s media day that his left ankle was still swollen and sore from the sprain he suffered in March, it’s been a popular topic. Waiters revealed that he decided against ankle surgery that would have kept him out for 8 to 10 months. But Spoelstra has downplayed the injury in training camp, saying Waiters’ “speed is where it was when he was at his quickest last year if not better right now.” And Waiters proved in the scrimmage that Spoelstra wasn’t just saying that to make the ankle discussion disappear. Waiters drove past guys, dunked the ball in transition, swatted away a Goran Dragic shot and made his threes. The 25-year-old guard finished with 16 points, two rebounds and five assists.

“That’s what we’ve seen,” Spoelstra said of Waiters’ encouraging scrimmage performance. “He’s been moving well. He’s in good condition. And he’s been showing that burst of speed. I mentioned it the other day. It’s equal to what he had last year if not better because of the shape that he’s in.”

The question is, how will the ankle feel after a back-to-back set in the middle of season? That’s the concern, the durability of his sore ankle down the road. For now, Waiters looks unaffected by the injury. The Heat hope that doesn’t change.

“It’s just about controlling it and being smart about situations,” Waiters said of his ankle. “I can’t let it affect me going into games and thinking about it. Once I’m out there, I’m out there. I don’t think about nothing.”

Final stats from Saturday’s Heat scrimmage.

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