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
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.
*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.
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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