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2020 NBA Draft: A shortened offseason could favor drafting Cassius Winston

2020 NBA Draft: A shortened offseason could favor drafting Cassius Winston

The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Cassius Winston

Team: Michigan State
Position: PG
Age: 22
Height: 6-1
Weight: 185
Wingspan: 6-5

2019/20 stats: 30 G, 32.7 mpg, 18.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 5.9 apg, 1.2 spg, 0.0 bpg, 44.8 FG% (6.2/13.8), 43.2 3PT% (2.4/5.6), 85.2 FT%

Player comparison: Kyle Lowry

Projections: NBC Sports Washington N/A, Sports Illustrated 41st, Ringer 34th, NBADraft.net 56th, Bleacher Report N/A

5 things to know:

*Cassius Winston is an elite player and one of the household names within this NBA Draft class. At Michigan State, he never shied away from the big moment and has been the face of the program since he became a starter. Twice he was named a consensus All-American and was named the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2019. 

*Winston is a household name because he is older, much older than all the prospects that will be taken ahead of him on draft night. He's 22, not the typical age of first-round draftees. Rarely do four-year guys have the option of getting drafted in the first-round with Buddy Hield being one of the few outliers. Winston suited up for the maximum four years at Michigan State. This could be a hindrance for some teams wanting to develop young talent.

*Already, the point guard is entering one Hall of Fame. Later this year he will become a member of the Catholic High School League Hall of Fame. In Michigan, he went to the University of Detriot Jesuit High School where he led his team to a state championship and was named Mr. Basketball of Michigan. 

RELATED: DOES RUI STILL FALL TO THE WIZARDS IN A 2019 REDRAFT?

*The biggest asset of Winston's game is his basketball IQ. Even during this season when Michigan State won a share of the Big Ten regular-season title, head coach Tom Izzo said he relies on Winston's leadership to help get the team to where they needed to be. Winston always makes the right decision and has a history of winning at a high level. Through his experience, he is also fully developed in several aspects of the game. What you see is what you get. 

*Winston is also a phenomenal shooter that will lead him to success at any level.  Throughout his entire college career, he shot an outstanding 43% from 3-point range and 85% from the free-throw line. Shooting translates well. Point guard is the only position he's really ever known - and where he is best utilized - but could be a great off-ball shooter. 

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Fit with Wizards: For several prospect profiles, we've dove into whether the Wizards would take a point guard - one that could be a franchise guy or otherwise. The more likely scenario is drafting a backup point guard in the second round than Washington spending their first-round pick at the position when they have John Wall. But, Shabazz Napier and GM Tommy Sheppard's intent to re-sign Napier would likely push that off the table as an option. 

There's no reason for the Wizards to sign Napier to a multi-year deal and draft a polished point guard that would be ready within a couple of seasons. 

One difference for Winston as opposed to other point guards that could fall to the second round, is that he is ready to go. Much like Rui Hachimura was in 2019, he would be ready to play and contribute from the start of the season. Washington would not need to focus on his development or worry about him getting acclimated to the NBA game. An abbreviated offseason without Summer Leagues will not help other draft prospects that may have a higher upside and go earlier in the draft. 

On the flip side, while the 6-foot-1 guard is fully developed, his ceiling is likely limited as compared to other prospects. His peak years maybe his first few seasons.

Winston can also run an offense and be trusted to have a second unit fill-in modestly. His 2.37 assist to turnover ratio reflects Wall's and far superior to anyone else on the roster. For years the bench has been a problem for the Wizards, Winston alone could bring it a step forward. 

Unlike other non-lottery point guards, shooting is not an issue for Winston. He's always been in a spot where he can run the show, but he is an elite shooter and could likely play in a No. 2 role to get reps with Wall and/or Bradley Beal. 

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2020 NBA Draft: Could Tre Jones be a Wizards second-round option as a backup point guard?

2020 NBA Draft: Could Tre Jones be a Wizards second-round option as a backup point guard?

The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Tre Jones

Team: Duke
Position: PG
Age: 20
Height: 6-3
Weight: 185
Wingspan: 6-8

2019/20 stats: 29 G, 34.5 mpg, 16.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.4 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.3 bpg, 42.3 FG% (5.6/13.2), 36.1 3PT% (1.3/3.7), 77.1 FT%

Player comparison: Jarrett Jack, a young Rajon Rondo

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 23rd, Sports Illustrated 44th, Ringer 32nd, NBADraft.net 40th, Bleacher Report 28th

5 things to know:

*Tre Jones is one of Duke's stars that did not go the one-and-done route despite starting his freshman season and still put up notable numbers on a team that had two top-five picks. He returned his sophomore season to improve on his jump shot and in doing so, became a key piece of the Blue Devils offense. 

*A year ago, before Jones dropped out of the draft process, some mock drafts did not even have the point guard getting drafted. Inconsistencies on his shooting, especially his 3-point shot really hindered his projection. Now, Jones is a first-round prospect and one of the top ten PGs in this year's class. 

RELATED: WHAT WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT RUI HACHIMURA

*There may not be a better defensive point guard in the draft than Jones. At 6-3 he has decent size for the position and recorded 120 steals across his two seasons with the Blue Devils. Jones plays tight on his assignment but also has great vision to be able to read plays and cut off passes. This past season he received the top two honors in the ACC as Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

*His freshman season, Jones made Duke history by setting a Duke single-season record with a 3.62 assist-turnover ratio. With the Blue Devils' history of PGs, including Bobby Hurley, Johnny Dawkins, Jay Williams and others, that is quite the accomplishment. 

*Tre is the younger brother of NBA player Tyus Jones who was drafted 24th in the 2015 draft. Tyus, also a point guard, is currently a backup for the Memphis Grizzlies. 

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Fit with Wizards: If Jones were to join the Wizards as the roster stands with the 2019-20 season still underway, he would be the third point guard on the depth chart, behind John Wall and Shabazz Napier. And since general manager Tommy Sheppard says that the team is looking to retain the services of Napier this offseason, it doesn't appear that would change next year.

Jones is best when he is facilitating a talented offense, evenly getting teammates touches while not turning the ball. He also can score when attention is elsewhere. However, his initiation is limited and developing looks in isolation spots is not at the level consistent with NBA stars. As long as Wall is on the Wizards, Jones likely won't get those opportunities.

Positionally, Jones doesn't have much versatility either unlike other PGs on the roster in Ish Smith and Isaac Bonga. Without a big 3-point game - 36% on only 108 attempts last season and 26% just the year prior - it would be tough to squeeze him in a lineup at the two or on the wing. A point guard or a second ballhandler alongside a combo guard is the only place he fits on the floor.

There is a scenario where Jones is available for the Wizards in the second round and instead of resigning Napier, Sheppard sees more value in the draft prospect. He would definitely be a cheaper option and the dropoff for a second-unit player is not too concerning.

A back-up role would fit Jones, at least until he further polishes off his game as a shooter. He could end up being a long-term successor to Wall if he plays behind him for a handful of years.

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2020 NBA Draft: Could big-man Vernon Carey Jr. drop to the Wizards in the second round?

2020 NBA Draft: Could big-man Vernon Carey Jr. drop to the Wizards in the second round?

The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Vernon Carey Jr. 

Team: Duke
Position: PF/C
Age: 19
Height: 6-10
Weight: 270
Wingspan: 7-0

2019/20 stats: 31 G, 24.9mpg, 17.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.7 spg, 1.6 bpg, 57.7 FG% (6.4/11.1), 38.1 3PT% (0.3/0.7), 67.0 FT%

Player comparison: DeMarcus Cousins, Domantas Sabonis

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 27th, Sports Illustrated 27th, Ringer 45th, NBADraft.net 13th, Bleacher Report N/A

5 things to know:

*At Duke, Vernon Carey Jr. was a bruiser, a typical big-man in every sense that he would simply impose his will on any opponent in the way. He's extremely strong and built like a tight end in the NFL, with his athleticism and burst making him fit the mold for a quick-paced team. That combination allows him to thrive with a bevy of post moves in his arsenal.

*Many analysts are split on where Carey projects in the draft order. One mock has him as a lottery pick as high as 13th, others don't even have the 6-foot-10 big-man as a first-round prospect. This is partly due to his sometimes poor decision-making and lack of developing a perimeter game. There is no denying his athleticism or raw talent though, just his best assets are not as valuable as they once were in the NBA.

*It seemed Carey knew that he needed to show flashes of a 3-point game to fit into today's NBA. He only attempted 21 3-pointers, mostly due to Coach K's system, and fared decently well. What he did show was a reliable jumper and good form that could translate as he gets more repetitions. 

*No matter where selected, Carey is one of the top rebounders of his class. He's at or above the level of James Wiseman, who many NBA executives say should be the No. 1 pick. Carey understands positioning well and prioritizes it on every possession. Last season he averaged 14.1 rebounds per 40 minutes, one of the best in Division I. He's a fine blocker, but most are against smaller guards and wings, and he doesn't have the same reach against other bigs. 

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*Athleticism runs in the family. His father, Vernon Carey Sr. was an offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins from 2004-11 and was drafted 19th in the 2004 NFL Draft. 

Fit with Wizards: One of the major holes in the Wizards rotation on both ends of the floor is their interior post-game. Several elements of Carey's game are exactly what the Wizards are looking for to fill some voids. 

Carey would be able to boost the team's presence on the boards and be able to adequately defend other bigs. Even as a late first-round, early second-round prospect, Carey could find himself competing for a starting role with Thomas Bryant at the center spot. He can hold his own on the offensive end of the court and even has a more polished jumper than Bryant. 

Athletically, Carey would be one of the few centers in the draft that is more than capable of fitting into Scott Brooks' up-tempo style. He's nimble and has the durability to move up and down the floor. Often he was the first on the other end of the court in transition opportunities.

Over time, Washington will need him to continue to build on his range, but the fundamentals are there to show he won't reside in the post every possession.

There are some concerns as he defends. Outside, he can cover stretch-fours and other players of similar size. However, sometimes he overcommits on fakes or rotates over on a cutting player. He won't exactly shut down the best centers in the league. 

Drafting Carey with the Wizards' first-round pick would be a bit of a stretch, but the Wizards' second-rounder could be in play. While the order is not entirely set, Washington will likely have one of the first 10 picks of the second round. Depending on how teams view Carey, there is a possibility the center would be available. 

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