After months of waiting, the 2020 NBA Draft is finally upon us and two Michigan State basketball stars are hoping to hear their names called.
The 2020 NBA Draft is set to take place on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. ET. Due to the pandemic, the selections will be announced live from ESPN in Bristol.
Michigan State is projected to have two former players chosen with graduating senior point guard Cassius Winston and junior power forward Xavier Tillman eager to hear their names called.
This pair deserves a tremendous amount of credit for helping the Spartans secure three straight Big Ten titles (2018, 2019, 2020). Both are proven winners as Winston and Tillman proudly possess 105 and 85 victories, respectively, on their collegiate resumes. Their brilliance was highlighted by Michigan State’s magical run to the Final Four two seasons ago.
Winston is a true floor general with Detroit-grit who finished his MSU career with a mind-boggling 1,969 points and 890 assists (most in Big Ten history). No. 5 was an assassin from beyond the arc as he knocked down 259 three-pointers (at a 43 percent clip) during his four years in the green and white. Accuracy that sharp is not seen often in point guards, which only adds to his value as a pro prospect.
His stellar individual performance (which resulted in an incredible 18.8 points per game and 7.5 assists per game) over the course of his junior campaign led the Spartans to numerous outstanding team accomplishments during the 2018-19 season including the Las Vegas Invitational title, defeating Michigan three times in the span of a month, capturing a Big Ten Tournament title (with the league tourney MVP to boot), and taking down Duke in the Elite Eight against all odds.
Although the Spartans fell short of their ultimate goal of an NCAA championship, his Big Ten Player of the Year season demonstrated his undeniable gifts and marvelous feel for the game.
Winston is surgical operating out of the pick-and-roll and deadly if given a clean look at the basket. His basketball IQ is off the charts and he’s a magnificent passer with phenomenal court vision. His handle is tight and he can finish at the rim or drop a beautiful dime with either hand in the blink of an eye. He scores the ball with precision starting with floaters in the lane via penetration, out to mid-range pull-ups, and can drain jumpers with ease from way downtown.
This is a playmaker who can quarterback an offense at a high level with fearless leadership. He never seems to get rattled. Those nerves of steel will carry him far.
Tillman is as steady as they come with the chiseled 6-foot-8, 245-pound frame of a modern-day gladiator patrolling the paint. You won’t find a defender who is as tough, determined, smart and disciplined as X. He made life miserable for opposing big men all across the conference (just ask Luka Garza) on his way to claiming the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award this past season.
Defensively, he is a monster. His numbers are a direct reflection of his prowess on that end of the floor — 10.3 rebounds to go along with 2.1 blocks and 1.2 steals per contest. He inspires those around him with his relentless effort and awareness (you very rarely will catch him out of position).
His offensive game continues to evolve to the point where he can drill perimeter shots. His 13.7 point per game average on less than 10 field goal attempts per game speaks to his efficiency.
Here are a half-dozen or so NBA teams (between the mid-lower first round to the early second round range) which could benefit from adding these stars based on their needs.