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2020 NBA Draft Preview: Cassius Winston 6’1 185 PG- Michigan State

What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Winston plays the game at his own pace and doesn’t have a clear comparison in today’s NBA. His ability to weave in and out of traffic, command the game in transition and keep his dribble is remenicist of former NBA MVP, Steve Nash.

Coach Speak:  “Quite honestly, there are not a lot of players in the country that play (with) that high level of basketball IQ,” Miami head coach Jim Larranaga  said before MSU played the Hurricanes in the NCAA Tournament during Winston’s freshman season. “So we used an old NBA player, now retired, named Steve Nash, because he could find the open man with brilliance. And we find Cassius Winston to be that kind of point guard.”

Worth noting, his shooting splits also compare favorably to Nash when he starred at Santa Clara University. Winston is a gifted passer, who had a 6.4 assist to 2.7 turnover ratio. In his latter years in East Lansing, he showed he could bail the offense out of bad sets with creativity off the dribble as well as pull up from three in transition (43% from the three point line).

Weaknesses: Has the point guard position evolved too much athletically for Winston to find a role in today’s NBA? Conditioning was a problem early on in his junior season when the MSU point guard was asked to shoulder heavy minutes as the Spartans looked for scoring punch (Florida ‘18). Winston is also 22 years old, does he have any upside? 

Other Notes:

  • Attended University of Detroit Jesuit High School (Mi.) and was named the state’s Mr. Basketball.
  • All time assists leader in Big Ten history (890 total) and named Big Ten Player of the Year (2019).
  • 2016-2017 (35 games, 5 sts): 6.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 5.2 AST, 42% FG, 38% FG3, 77% FT
  • 2017-2018 (35 games, 34 sts): 12.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.9 AST, 50% FG, 49% FG3, 90% FT
  • 2018-2019 (39 games, 30 sts): 18.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 7.5 AST, 46% FG, 40% FG3, 84% FT
  • 2019-2020 (30 games, 30 sts): 18.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 5.9 AST, 45% FG, 43% FG3, 85% FT
  • Career:  14.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 6.4 AST, 46% FG, 43% FG3, 84% FT

Time to get NASTY (Our Summary):

Winston has potential as a second round draft pick if he finds a coach that believes in his skill sets. In recent memory, former undersized Spartans like Draymond Green (35th overall pick ) and Bryn Forbes (undrafted)  have been able to latch on in the league despite their low draft position. Winston, who is more decorated than the previously named Spartans, has the intangibles to serve as a quality backup point guard to start his career if he can overcome his physical limitations.