Meet Justise Winslow, one of the tournament heroes of the Duke Blue Devils' run to a national championship this year. Chances are, if you are a fan of the Charlotte Hornets or of basketball in general, you know of Winslow.
After Jahlil Okafor, Winslow is the most NBA-ready of the Blue Devils' loaded 2014-2015 roster. A McDonald's All-American and the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year in high school, Winslow finished last season as one of the hottest players in the roster, taking his play to a new level in the NCAA Tournament. While he may not have gotten as much national attention as some of his teammates, Winslow's name is one that could very well become a household one within a few years.
Measures and Statistics
|Height without shoes||Height with shoes||Weight||Wingspan||Standing Reach||Body Fat|
|Games Played||Minutes/game||Points/game||Total Rebounds/game||Assists/game||Steals/game||Blocks/game||Turnovers/game||Fouls/game|
On paper and on tape, Justise Winslow seems to have everything the Hornets so desperately need, on both sides of the ball.
Let's start where Charlotte needs the most help — offense. You can look at all the stats above, which tell quite a story. Not listed above are Winslow's stats from the NCAA Tournament, which include averages of 14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He showed great quickness, which he would often use in combination with his solid frame to speed past defenders and power his way to the basket. He established himself as a solid slasher, then complemented it with a 3-point threat. He shot 41.4% from deep last year which would have been the best on the Hornets last year (minimum 50 attempts). He can score in multiple ways, and played with a dominant big man in Okafor, so he (in theory) would be ready to play with someone like Al Jefferson. On top of all of that, he also showed the ability to score in the post with some nice footwork and finishing ability. He is an excellent passer for a wing player and moves well off the ball.
Defensively, he shows everything you want to see in a wing defender. He is tenacious and never gives up on a play, which can lead to plenty of chasedown blocks, a la LeBron James or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He has great fundamentals, is active both on and off the ball, does well to get around screens and even defended a lot of power forwards in college despite his 6'6 frame. The combination of Winslow and MKG on the wings would give opposing offenses' nightmares for weeks.
He has all the intangibles someone like Steve Clifford would crave for in a player. Winslow is very reminiscent of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and looks like a coach's dream come true.
Of course, no player is perfect, and Winslow is no exception. When Winslow is on, he has proven that he will most likely be one of, if not the, best players on the floor. But Winslow has consistency issues — twice this season, he went three plus games without scoring in double-digits (once in late November/early December and once in January). There were times in the season where Winslow just could not seem to put it all together. I had an opportunity to speak with Rich Cho before a game earlier this season, and he echoed this when I asked about Winslow (this was prior to the NCAA Tournament).
A more pressing concern is Winslow's shooting — just how legitimate is it? Winslow shot just 64.1 percent from the free throw line last year and, as Draft Express breaks down in this video, there are some work to be done with his jump shot (but this is the team that turned Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's shot from this to this).
In addition, he is not exactly the best at shooting off the dribble — he was 2-for-19 on shots off the bounce last year. He does best when he was able to drive and get to the basket, but showed some signs of struggling against length while in college. If he struggles against length in college, just how well will he adjust to the NBA, where seemingly every defender has length (at least when compared to the college game)?
Fit with Hornets
Justise Winslow seems like exactly what the Charlotte Hornets need. He is someone who can help fix their offensive woes while continuing to help the team build upon the defensive identity they have created. I asked Chris Bunn — friend, Duke aficionado and writer for Blue Devil Lair — his thoughts on Winslow and how he would fit in with the men of teal.
Winslow reminds me of MKG defensively. He's long, uses his body to stay in front of dribblers, and might be the best fast break defender I've ever seen besides LeBron [James]. He's a good kid too. His family is very well off but his dad made him work for everything. There are some great stories on his family in Houston. He'll never be a chemistry issue. Offensively, he can struggle to drive sometimes but that got better as the year went on. He's a great finisher, shot 60+% at the rim. Needs to work on his free throw shooting though. [In my opinion], he'd fit in well with Charlotte since he's not ball dominant and can guard 1-3.
So that's the good news — Winslow would be great for the team. The bad news is there is little to no chance that Winslow lasts past the New York Knicks at no. 4 or the Orlando Magic at no. 5. If the Charlotte Hornets want him, they will need to trade for him. I am not saying that this is impossible — Rich Cho has a history of some very solid trades and it looks like the Knicks may be interested in trading down — but it will be far from easy, as the team will have to offer quite to package in order to grab Winslow in place of someone else.