Editor's note: As the Warriors prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, during which they will have a lottery pick for the first time since 2012, NBC Sports Bay Area will present a twice-weekly series spotlighting two players expected to be evaluated. This is the sixth of a 12-part series over the next six weeks.
The Warriors have had mixed results in the draft in recent years. However, they’ve found success in selecting four-year college players in the later rounds. From Draymond Green to Eric Paschall, the Warriors have scored on older prospects. The trend could apply to Michigan State’s Cassius Winston.
A three-year starter, he averaged 18 points and five assists as a senior, helping the Spartans to a 22-9 record before the coronavirus pandemic ended his season prematurely.
His final season in East Lansing started in tragedy. On the night before MSU’s second game of the season, his younger brother Zachary committed suicide after he stepped in front of an Amtrak train in Albion, Mi. The next day, he finished with 17 points and 11 assists.
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Tragedy aside, Winston has all the intangibles of a winner. During his four-year tenure at MSU, the Spartans reached the postseason twice, including a Final Four berth in 2019. Before his senior season was canceled, the Spartans ranked 9th in the country. Along the way, he earned the Big 10 Conference's Player of the Year in 2019 and finished as the school’s all-time assists leader.
A pick and roll savant, he’s an equal threat to score and dish. However, he’s not especially quick or athletic. Moreover, he can be turnover prone and has an awkward shooting motion. He also didn’t play particularly well in a December loss to Duke, in front of Warriors general manager Bob Myers, missing 4-of-14 shots in an 87-75 loss.
Nonetheless, Winston’s body of work should garner a late-first or early second-round selection on draft night.
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Cassius Winston Profile
Position: Point Guard
Birthdate: February 28, 1997 (19 years old)
Hometown: Detroit, Mi
2019-20 season averages: 18.6 points (44.8 percent FG, 43.2 percent 3-point, 85.2 percent FT), 2.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.2 steals.
What they’re saying: "One of the more unique guys I have ever coached. If you walked up to him on the street and said, ‘He’s one of the top 10 players that ever played at Michigan State,’ they’d say you’re full of it. Then if you watched him run, you’d say there’s no way. Then you watch his size and athletic ability, you’d say there’s no way." - MSU coach Tom Izzo