Michigan State Basketball: Cassius Winston should be first-round NBA draft pick

Cassius Winston, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Cassius Winston, Michigan State basketball (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Former Michigan State basketball star Cassius Winston should be picked in round one of the 2020 NBA Draft and he thinks so, too.

In what can only be described as par for the course these days, Cassius Winston met with local reporters on Monday via Zoom call.

The former Michigan State legend had one of the most productive careers in school history and fell just short of even more accolades thanks to COVID-19 cancelling the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. It was a disappointing and shocking end to a career and Winston fell just short of the 2,000-point mark — he was just 31 points away.

While he did finish his career as a champion, beating Ohio State in the season finale to lock up a three-way tie atop the Big Ten standings, he admitted that it still hurt to have the season cut short.

Another admission he had to local reporters was that he believed he had done enough during his college career to warrant a first-round pick.

And he’s right.

Winston may not have an incredible ceiling due to his lack of size and elite athleticism, but players in the NBA have carved out nice careers despite not having 40-inch verticals or blazing speed and standing between 6-0 and 6-2. It happens. It’s rare, but not impossible in today’s NBA. Those guys are usually crafty with a high basketball IQ and can shoot extremely well.

That’s exactly what Cassius brings to the table. Crafty was his middle name at Michigan State as he constantly made defenders look silly with his ability to put the ball on a string and was one of the smartest players in the country. Oh yeah, and he shot lights out.

This kid is a first-round talent, there’s no question about it.

If an NBA team is looking for one of the safest picks at the end of round one who could mold into a 10-plus year player in the league at point guard, Winston is your guy.

As always, teams will veer away from taking a point guard on the low end of the athleticism chain but he more than makes up for it with his ability to make teammates better, lead and make good decisions.

Would you rather have a 6-foot-2 point guard who could jump out of the gym but who had a poor jump shot and low basketball IQ or a 6-foot-1 point guard who isn’t overly athletic who shoots lights out, is crafty with the ball in his hands and makes everyone around him better both on and off the court? The answer is simple.

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If you’re a team like Oklahoma City, New York or Toronto drafting at the end of round one, it’d be wise to take a chance on a kid who’s going to be in the league for a while.