Justise Winslow – Better than average?

Justise Winslow is a versatile player, but how versatile will he be in the NBA? (Photo credit to basketball insiders.com)
Justise Winslow is a versatile player, but how versatile will he be in the NBA? (Photo credit to basketball insiders.com)

Justise Winslow proved to be a pivotal player for Duke in its run to a national championship.

He is an interesting player.

What could he become at the next level?

Here is my opinion.

He was rated a 5-star prospect out of Houston, TX., but was pegged the fourth-best small forward in his class. In fact, Stanley Johnson, Kelly Oubre and Justin Jackson were rated higher than Winslow, but he had the better year than each of them.

He averaged a modest 12.6 points per game on a team that won a national championship, but he did a lot of the little things for the Blue Devils. He was a versatile player on offense and defense, and he got better during the season.

He is 6-foot-6 and a solid 225 pounds. At his height, some might question if he is big enough to be a good small forward in the NBA. In reality, it is of some concern, but height doesn’t measure a player’s heart or willingness to give effort. Winslow has no problem giving extra effort, either.

He is a strong player and he does a good job of using his advantages – strength and quickness – to get past defenders on the perimeter.

He is left-handed. That’s always a plus. Like I mentioned in my post about D’Angelo Russell, being left-handed gives a player an advantage because defenders are not used to moving to their right as much as they are to their left.

His strength allows him to finish through the contact, although I didn’t see him dunking in traffic on his highlight tape. That gives me the impression that he isn’t an explosive athlete, but it is still a plus that he can finish with contact.

Some websites have compared him to James Harden. The only thing those two players have in common is being left-handed. While I see some resemblance of Harden when Winslow drives to the basket like the lack of quick elevation or elevation once contact occurs, these two players are nothing alike.

Winslow loves to pound smaller players in the post. He is a lot more physical than Harden has ever been in his career. While Harden is strong, he doesn’t love to get too physical on the basketball court.

He is also a solid defender. While he might be lucky to crack one, maybe two, All-Defensive teams in his career, he will be nothing less than solid. I mentioned earlier than he is versatile on defense. I believe he can already guard shooting guards and small forwards, and I think he could learn how to guard some point guards, too.

One thing I don’t like about his game is his poor free throw shooting (64.1 percent). It will always bug me. No player should shoot less than 70 percent from the free throw line.

He isn’t spectacular at creating his own offense. He is good at driving to the basket, but is not impressive when he shoots off the dribble. He would rather get to the basket or pass the ball instead of shooting off the dribble.

He will be a wing player, so he will have to learn how to become effective or, at the very least, competent in that area of the game.

He doesn’t have very many counters when driving to the basket, either. He is like the guy at the Y. He does the same thing over and over with hope that the next time will be a different result. Winslow always tries to bull his way through opponents.

My biggest concern with him is his shooting. Is he a really good shooter or is he an average shooter that posed as a good shooter? His numbers would say he was pretty good at Duke. He shot 41.8 percent from three, but we know the NBA three-point line is farther back. His shot looked flat, most of the time, even on makes.

I never try to sound too negative in my articles, I save that for in-person, so I don’t want people to get the wrong impression. I see tiny micro-flashes of Harden in Winslow’s game, but I actually have to agree with Winslow himself. He said he sees himself more like Jimmy Butler. That’s not a bad comparison. I also see some Ron Artest in there, too. I think he could be a mix of Butler and Artest. That would make a pretty good player.

And both players like to bully the opposition.

At the very least, I think he will be a richer-man’s Ronnie Brewer. Hey – don’t laugh – Brewer was good until the Utah Jazz traded him.

I believe Winslow is worthy of a top 10 pick in this draft and I think he will have a solid, productive career.

If he doesn’t, don’t blame it on me!

What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment section!

Have a great day!


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