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Expectations are high for Heat's Winslow

Rob Tringali for ESPN

MIAMI -- Symbolically, Justise Winslow’s first official day of work in Miami had him posing for pictures between team president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra while holding a blank Heat jersey.

The scene represented the clean canvas from which the No. 10 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft will work from as he launches his career with the Heat. Winslow had yet to pick out a jersey number, because the No. 12 he wore in college currently belongs to Zoran Dragic.

That would be Zoran Dragic, as in the younger brother of Goran Dragic, the free-agent point guard Miami is desperate to re-sign at the start of free agency Wednesday. But on a larger scale, this essentially means the Heat won’t get too caught up in the numbers as far as Winslow is concerned.

Not his age (19).

Not his position (2, 3, 4 anywhere on the court).

And especially not where he fell in the draft (projected top-six, fell to No. 10).

“Everybody knows I like experience,” Riley said of Winslow. “But you can also sense when you watch [him] on the court, there are 19-year-old players, and I get the feeling he plays like a grown man. He’s got the same maturity [as some older players]. He’s unique. Come October in training camp, he’s going to show why he’s beyond his years.”

Those are the lofty expectations the versatile swingman from Duke’s national championship team will face when he begins his career this week as he prepares for summer league play with the Heat. Winslow spoke at length about his journey to the NBA and his goals now that he’s arrived.

(On how his game fits with the Heat)

Winslow: Well I definitely think I’m a very versatile player. It kind of just comes from high school. I didn’t play with a lot of McDonald’s All Americans. I played with talented guys but . . . I had to learn to do a lot on the court. That’s where my versatility came from. I like to be a well-rounded player and I think I showed that at Duke. I’m excited just to get better in all areas of my game.

(On joining a talented team)

Winslow: Just like draft night, I’ve been trying to soak it all in, living in the moment. I’ve been able to talk to Coach [Spoelstra] about the organization. I was really excited to get down here. It’s a winning organization and an organization that wants to win right now. All my life, I’ve won and have been a winner. Just to be part of an organization that’s constantly focused on doing that, that’s what I’m most happy for. That’s why when I did get selected No. 10 to the Heat, I was so happy. I’ve kind of just been dreaming what it would be like to be here, since Thursday night.

(On wide range of comparisons to Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, Draymond Green and Caron Butler)

Winslow: To be honest, I don’t really listen to the comparisons unless I hear them from the media during interviews. I just try to play my game. I watch film on different guys and try to pull things [from] different details that different guys do. For me, it’s about being myself because that’s what got me here. Of course, I’m going to watch film of other guys to try to get better. But it’s about me being me, me playing my game and going out there and performing.

(On becoming a great NBA player)

Winslow: A lot of it is about the work you put in. It’s about staying up late, getting in early, and watching a lot of film, taking criticism, but not taking it personally. It’s a lot of good players up there. But the great ones are the ones you remember, the ones who have the jerseys hanging up. We were just talking about that [with Riley and Spoelstra]. You really want to transcend the game, transcend the culture of basketball. You’re going to need people around you. Good family, good coaches. Somehow, I’m here with the Heat, and they’re not going to expect nothing but greatness from you.

(On advice he’s gotten from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski)

Winslow: Ever since I declared, Coach K has been very supportive and helpful through the process. He helped me get whatever information I needed. But he told me it would be a tough transition, especially since I’m so young. But it’s like that for a lot of guys. Being 19 years old and playing with guys who are old veterans in their 30s, it’s going to be tough. But I accept the challenge. But he’s just been telling me to stay with it and be yourself.

(On pressure to succeed in NBA)

Winslow: I’ve had pressure on me my whole life. So it’s nothing that’s new to me, nothing I can’t handle. So to be honest, I sort of think I thrived under the pressure. In March, in the NCAA tournament, I think I played very well. But to me, pressure is whatever you put on yourself. There are going to be people talking. You can choose to listen. You can choose to do whatever you want with the information. But pressure is what you put on yourself. I have high expectations for myself, but they’re all realistic. I just try to live up to my expectations. At the end of the day, that’s all I can do.