The Charlotte Hornets need guard depth. They didn’t have a legitimate third point guard behind Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier, and that was a rather precarious position to be in considering how much that duo played together. The Hornets will almost surely add some back court depth in the draft, and Cassius Winston could fit that bill.
Weight: 200 pounds
Strengths: Outside shooting, pick and roll play, experience
Winston has been one of the best 3-point shooters in college basketball for years now. He connected on 43.7% of his 5.1 3-point attempts per game over his last three seasons, and he knocked in 85.7% of his free throws on top of that. He’s a deadly shooter off the dribble, frequently pulling up out of pick and rolls and in transition, and occasionally out of isolation situations. He ranked in 97th percentile in spot up shooting and 90th in shooting off screens, according to Synergy.
The Michigan State product is one of the draft’s most proficient pick and roll players, both as a passer and a scorer. He reads the defense well and has the savvy to make unexpected passes to open up easy looks for teammates. He’s good at throwing lobs and creating passing angles to all parts of the floor.
Winston is a four year contributor and three year starter for a Michigan State program that’s always one of the best in college basketball. He was the Big Ten player of the year for the 2018-19 season and is a two time All American. He has big game experience and should be ready to step in and contribute right away.
Question marks: Physical attributes, isolation creation, scoring inside the arc
Most of Cassius Winston’s problems can be boiled down to his athletic limitations. He’s a little bit on the smaller side for a guard, which wouldn’t be a big deal if he was a good athlete. But he’s not a good athlete. He lacks short area quickness and top end speed, and he’s not the least bit explosive (I don’t even think he can dunk). That gives him problems on both ends of the floor, as he struggles to stay in front of quicker guards and struggles to get by athletic players on the other end.
Winston struggles to create offense from a standstill because of his lack of athleticism. He has a good handle, but he doesn’t have the burst to fully maximize that skill. He’s heavily reliant on ball screens and other actions to open up the floor for him, as he’ll rarely be able to create an advantage in a one-on-one situation. The majority of his scoring comes from off the ball situations, which is rather unique for a player that handles the ball as much as he does.
Winston struggles to finish around the basket, and this is again due to his lack of explosiveness. He’s crafty and has a pretty deep bag of tricks around the basket, but he still ranked on the lower end of average as a finisher around the basket. That will only get tougher when he faces better athletes at the NBA level. He’s not particularly efficient in transition either, where he’d rather stop and pop for three or find a teammate instead of getting all the way to the basket for himself.
The Hornets struck gold once taking a four year college player from a big time program early in the second round. Devonte’ Graham is a much better athlete, but he had many of the same question marks around his game coming out of Kansas. It’s entirely possible that Winston could carve out a role as a solid backup point guard that can efficiently run and offense and knock down outside shots. Plus he seems to be really tight with former teammate Miles Bridges, and it’d be cool to see them reunited on the Hornets.