Brandon Ingram was drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday and will be counted on to turn around a team that went a franchise-worst 17-65 last season.
Fellow Duke product Justise Winslow had some advice for the 18-year-old.
“I just told him to be open to anything,” Winslow said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Just go into the NBA with an open mind and be willing to learn. He’s a bright kid. He’s the No. 2 pick for a reason, so as far as the stuff on the court, I think he’ll be able to handle it. I told him not to be too focused on trying to gain weight. That’ll come naturally. But I just told him to be himself and be open to everything about the NBA as a game and as a profession on and off the court. . . . It’s just a different world, a different league. I think he has to just be able to stay level-headed and not get too high and not get too low about things during the season.”
Winslow, the tenth pick in the 2015 Draft, didn’t have that issue this past season, perhaps because he had the privilege of learning from Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade and other respected winners and leaders in the Heat organization.
“During the regular season, I probably saw Coach Riley twice a week and a little bit more during playoffs,” Winslow said. “He kind of just gives us players and the coaching staff space to figure things out. We got a couple lectures or talking to’s throughout the season, but other than that, he pretty much gives us players and the coaching staff space to figure it out and do what we do.”
Riley, 71, won a championship while playing for the Knicks in 1972, won five NBA titles as a head coach, including four with the Lakers, and was responsible for the LeBron James era in Miami, which produced back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.
That’s a heck of a lot of rings.
“He wears them and he tells stories about them, but he doesn’t put them in our face or show them off,” Winslow said. “This organization is a pretty motivated culture, and so we don’t need somebody showing off their rings to get us motivated. It’s a winning history here, especially in the recent years.”
That’s due, in large part, to Wade, who averaged 19.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.1 steals this past season. Not bad for a 34-year-old vet 13 years into his career.
“Yeah, the season he had last year really surprised a lot of people, a lot of doubters (who said) that he was too injury-prone or he wasn’t playing at a high level,” Winslow said. “But I think this past year, he really shut a lot of people up with his play on the court and just the way he led our team. You see that Game 6 against the Hornets, just all the shots he was making, the way he put us on his shoulders. I think he can play at that level for a couple more years to come. He still has some juice left in his legs.”
One player who has tons of juice left in his legs is Hassan Whitesite, who averaged 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks this season. Whiteside, 27, is one of the best post players in the league, but he’s also a free agent.
Will he be back in Miami next season?
“I’m not sure,” Winslow said. “One thing you know about the Heat is they’ll go after somebody. We’re going to get some big free agent. I would love to have the big man back just because of the potential he has and the upside, but man, I don’t know. This is my first year. I’m pretty much just focused on me trying to get better and still trying to figure out this whole NBA thing.”
Winslow, to his credit, has figured out a lot of things in his 20 years. He won a national title at Duke, filled a key role as a rookie for the Heat, and is giving back to the community. He is hosting the Justise Winslow Invitational Clinic – a basketball camp for fifth- and sixth-grade boys – in his native Houston on Saturday and Sunday.
Winslow asked camp members to write an essay about one thing they would change about the world and why.
“It was interesting to read those papers and choose those boys,” Winslow said. “(The camp) should be fun. All my different partners and sponsors are going to help out. It’s my first one. I’m excited. Growing up, I went to all these camps all around the country. To have one of my own now, its kind of surreal. But it’ll be fun.”
The camp is operated by Robin’s House Family Foundation. The mission of Robin’s House Family Foundation, founded by Winslow’s mother, Robin Davis, is to encourage and guide children and young adults to discover their highest potential through education, recreation, and community outreach.