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Over the next few weeks leading up to the 2015 NBA Draft I’ll be reviewing some of the top prospects slated to be drafted before or around the No. 7 overall pick, currently owned by the Denver Nuggets. Because abundant backdrop on each of these players can be found across the Internet, my goal is not to recycle statistics, personal upbringing stories or opinions held by the general public, but rather to interpret the data and ultimately determine whether the Nuggets should draft or pass on these future NBA-check collectors.
As we begin to whittle down the final few prospects in BSN’s series analyzing the projected top picks in this year’s draft it’s inevitable we arrive at several names seemingly destined to be selected No. 7 overall by the Nuggets, names like Justise Winslow.
19 years old | 6-6 | 222 pounds | Small Forward | Duke
Justise Winslow is a hot name floating about Nuggets Nation right now. Nearly every mock draft on the Internet has him landing between picks five and eight, while many see him as a perfect fit for the Nuggets at seven. Though Winslow doesn’t fit a specific need for the Nuggets he would bring an ample injection of defense, leadership, high IQ and pure skill (the Nuggets greatest need) to a franchise in desperate yearning for each.
Why He’ll Succeed
Winslow does quite a few things well and possesses one elite trait: lock-down defense. Though Willie Cauley-Stein may be the most versatile defender in the draft, Winslow isn’t far behind. Yet while Cauley-Stein specializes in being good at guarding all five positions on the floor, Winslow appears to be great at guarding about three to four, specifically those on the wing.
In addition to his standout defense Winslow is also a great teammate, hard worker (some say “gym rat”) and a winner. He’s won everywhere he’s been and led Duke to the national championship this past season despite being only 18 years old almost the entire year. Winslow is also a solid offensive talent — shooting above 40 percent from behind the line at Duke last year — and is perhaps the best passer in the draft amongst those 6-6 or taller.
Why He’ll Fail
Of all the players analyzed in this series, Winslow is probably the least likely to fail for two reasons: (A) He doesn’t have extremely high expectations (unlike Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor who will be drafted to carry their entire franchise), and (B) his most discernible characteristic (defense) is proven to translate to the next level. Still, like all players Winslow could end up underachieving and if he does it will likely be due to his offense which some say is mediocre.
Draft or Pass?
In years past I’ve championed the Nuggets to draft Kenneth Faried, Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic and Quincy Miller — all of whom the Nuggets actually selected and all of whom turned out to be pretty darn good selections considering where they were picked. This year, I’m hoping the next in the above-mentioned line of prospects I strongly support and the Nuggets end up drafting is none other than Justise Winslow. As I say about one, and only one player each year: He’s “my guy.”
Winslow is exactly what the Nuggets need. He’s young, extremely talented, smart, athletic, stacked, well rounded, defensive minded, well behaved, offensively promising and a proven winner. He’s the complete package. He’s everything you want from a mid-Lottery selection with the guarantee of at least becoming an athletic, lock-down wing defender.
Though some will nitpick Winslow’s shooting (which seems completely unfounded considering how well he shot the ball last year at Duke in nearly every corner of the floor) and pontificate about a low ceiling, the fact is Winslow’s floor is absurdly high — perhaps higher than any other player in this draft outside the projected top-three picks. And in the sphere of scouting the NBA Draft — a world of busts, uncertainties and outright gambles — that’s worth a lot. Some may coin this type of player “safe,” but if you want to label Winslow safe then I’d argue safe is just another euphemism for “great basketball player,” and I’ll take one of those on my team seven days a week.
So while Winslow remains an ardent “draft” in this category by any standard, he also come with a notice, a warning of sorts — that if the Nuggets do draft him someone should immediately call 911, as I’ll have undoubtedly injured myself doing cartwheels across my living room floor.