Cassius Winston's Draft Scouting Report: Pro Comparison, Updated Wizards RosterNovember 19, 2020
The Washington Wizards (via the Oklahoma City Thunder) landed Michigan State guard Cassius Winston with the No. 53 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft on Wednesday.
Bleacher Report Draft Expert Jonathan Wasserman's Scouting Report
Player: Cassius Winston
Weight: 185 lbs
Pro Comparison: D.J. Augustin
Scouting Report: Cassius Winston had been pegged by scouts as a steal even before the draft when they didn't know where he'd fall. Age and athletic limitations prevented him from going in the lottery, but he's a candidate to outproduce his draft slot like previous older point guards Devonte' Graham, Malcolm Brogdon and Jalen Brunson. Winston possesses an advanced skill level for passing and shooting, as well as intangibles coaches and scouts rave about.
Here is where Winston figures to slot into the Wizards' depth chart:
Wizards Active Roster and Average Salary (Expiration Year)
John Wall, PG: $42.8M (2023)
Bradley Beal, SG: $35.9M (2023)
Thomas Bryant, C: $8.3M (2022)
Ish Smith, PG: $6M (2021)
Rui Hachimura, PF: $4.6M (2023)
Jerome Robinson, SG: $3.5M (2022)
Troy Brown Jr., SF: $3.1M (2022)
Moritz Wagner, PF: $2M (2022)
Admiral Schofield, SF: $1.4M (2022)
Isaac Bonga, PG: $1.4M (2021)
Anzejs Pasecniks, C: $1.3M (2022)
Deni Avdija, SF/PF: Rookie scale contract (2024)
Cassius Winston, PG
Davis Bertans, SF: UFA
Garrison Mathews, SG: RFA
Gary Payton II, PG: UFA
Ian Mahinmi, C: UFA
Shabazz Napier, PG: UFA
Jarrod Uthoff, PF: UFA
Jerian Grant, PG: UFA
Winston is a rarity in that he could have feasibly made the jump to the pros after his junior season but chose to spend four years with the Spartans.
The coronavirus pandemic denied the Detroit native the opportunity to lead Michigan State to its third national championship, which meant his draft stock largely remained stagnant after he played well but not at an exceptional level.
Winston averaged 18.6 points, 5.9 assists and 1.2 steals. His assists were his lowest since 2016-17 (5.2), but the drop wasn't too surprising since the Spartans had to replace Joshua Langford and Nick Ward, their respective No. 2 and 3 scorers from 2018-19.
Winston also shot 43.2 percent from beyond the arc, a healthy increase from 39.8 percent as a junior.
As much as he achieved in East Lansing (the 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year and a consensus second-team All-American in 2019 and 2020), the 22-year-old likely has a firm ceiling at the next level.
Winston doesn't make up for his height with explosive athleticism, either. While he can create off the dribble, he's unlikely to deliver a high volume of highlight-reel finishes.
While he probably won't emerge as a top-end talent in the NBA, his shooting and playmaking could earn him a meaningful spot in a team's rotation for years to come.
Over his time at Michigan State, 42.8 percent of his field-goal attempts were three-pointers, per Sports Reference, which makes him a good fit in a league where so much emphasis is on spacing the floor. He also averaged 6.4 assists to 2.7 turnovers, so he can run an offense for stretches if needed.
In an April 9 mock draft, ESPN's Mike Schmitz called Winston "one of the most polished pick-and-roll point guards in the draft."
Nobody will expect this to be a home run pick for Washington, but the Spartans star can provide immediate depth to the Wizards backcourt.
Although Washington is getting John Wall back from his Achilles injury, it's unclear what kind of player he'll be on his return. The team will want to carefully manage Wall's workload as well.
Ish Smith was solid in Wall's stead and is signed through the 2020-21 season. Winston will yield a more long-term return and allow the Wizards to potentially flip Smith at some point before the 2021 trade deadline.