Michigan State Basketball: Rocket Watts proving he’s capable of running the show

Cassius Winston and Rocket Watts, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Cassius Winston and Rocket Watts, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Rocket Watts had yet another solid performance against No. 9 Maryland on Saturday night, proving he can run the show for Michigan State basketball.

To start the season, Rocket Watts was having a rough go of things offensively. His transition from Spire Academy to Michigan State wasn’t going as smoothly as expected but he still managed to chip in a bit offensively at 6.5 points per game through the first eight.

But his shooting percentage was getting ugly. In fact, he shot just 27 percent from the floor and 21 percent from 3-point range — he was also shooting 67 percent from the free throw line.

And then Tom Izzo noticed something. Rocket wasn’t gettin a ton of lift off his leg and just seemed to be hampered so he was rested for about four weeks after a Duke blowout loss.

When he returned, he looked like a completely different player.

In fact, Watts has averaged 9.1 points, shooting 44 percent from the floor and 31 percent from long range. That 3-point shooting percentage isn’t all that impressive, but that’s because he started just 3-for-12 in that department in his first handful of games after his return.

Losing Cassius Winston next season will be rough, but what Winston has showed since the start of February is that he has the ability to flip the momentum and take over games. He did so against Illinois, Iowa and also Maryland. Since the start of February, he’s averaging 11.5 points and shooting 41 percent from the field and 32 percent from deep.

Watts is showing that he can be the perfect fill-in for Cassius next year, taking the keys to the Spartans’ show — he just needs to shoot more.

When he attempts more than 10 shots, Michigan State is 4-1. In that only loss, the Spartans lost a one-point heartbreaker at Wisconsin. Basically, when he shows confidence and hunts for his own shot, Michigan State is better.

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This year, Watts is there to take some pressure off Cassius and next year he’ll be looked at to be the star of the show and he has what it takes.