As the 2018-19 college basketball season draws closer to wrapping up, the chatter around top prospects for the 2019 NBA Draft begins to ramp up. The NCAA tournament provides an up-close look at some of the most intriguing prospects, and not surprisingly, the Michigan State Spartans include a few names to watch.
One name who’s been interesting throughout the year is Spartans guard Cassius Winston. The 6-foot junior guard has shown the ability to light up the scoreboard early and often in games and took a big step forward from year two to year three. Through the first 35 games of the season, Winston has posted strong marks and increased both his scoring and assist numbers.
The Michigan State standout averages 19.1 points, 7.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting a strong 47.2 percent from the field. Although his overall shooting percentage dropped a bit from last season, he’s attempting more than five additional shots per game.
Cassius Winston NBA Draft Projections & Mocks
It’s an interesting spot for Winston, who hasn’t found his way onto draft boards for the most part. It seems the belief is that he’s either on the fringe of the second round or just on the outside looking in. Regardless, the Michigan State guard will have the NCAA tournament and pre-draft workouts (if he opts to go pro) to help push his stock up.
While there’s no guarantee Winston will head to the NBA, he has landed on a few select big boards. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie currently has him as the No. 98 prospect, just behind Creighton’s Ty-Shon Alexander and Nevada’s Cody Martin.
Basketball Society’s Justin Kirkland echoed the sentiment of many others about Winston not being drafted if he chooses to go to the NBA this season. With that said, he does believe that one more year at Michigan State could help him develop and make a push for the 2020 draft.
As of right now, I see Winston as a 4 year player for the Spartans. Physically, he is still not yet ready for the NBA and will likely take the full time for his body and mind to develop. This will only continue to allow his game to mature and showcase his talent for NBA scouts as he makes a run at the 2020 draft.
Cassius Winston’s NBA Draft Stock & Profile
Even if Winston chooses to remain with the Spartans for one more season, there are some very positive things about his game that stand out. Specifically, his consistency as a shooter and ability to knock down shots at a strong clip from beyond the arc. Even while attempting more than one additional 3-pointer per game this season, he’s still knocking down 40.4 percent from deep (down from 49.7 percent last year).
Realistically, the only real downfalls of Winston’s NBA draft stock include his size and defense, which Basketball Society highlighted. Considering he stands 6-foot, it’ll make him undersized against NBA opponents and that could lead to struggles on the defensive end at the next level.