It never hurts to dream.
One day after the Pistons hosted Stanley Johnson, a 6-foot-7 small forward many believe will still be available by the time the Pistons make the eighth overall selection next Thursday, similarly sized Duke forward Justise Winslow stopped by to make his case in front of Pistons brass.
Unlike Johnson, Winslow is expected to be off the board by the time the Pistons select. However, draft day remains wholly unpredictable and Detroit’s leaving nothing to chance. Winslow, meanwhile, played it straight when asked about the possibility of slipping down to the Pistons.
“My dream is to make the NBA regardless to where I get picked,” Winslow said. “My dream is going to come true on June 25. I am extremely blessed. Wherever I’m picked I am going to make it work. It’s always a dream to go as high as you want but it would not be a disappointment (to go eighth). I am living my dream.”
Johnson and Winslow, both 19 years of age, have multiple similarities to their games, with Winslow considered the deluxe edition to his Arizona counterpart. Both players have received glowing reviews on the defensive end, with Winslow earning the nod as the player most likely to become a game-changer on that side of the ball. Per Draft Express:
His footwork and lateral movement is outstanding for a player his age, as he’s always in a stance, displays tremendous focus and awareness, and is incredibly tough, physical and competitive. While he’s tremendous one on one, he’s even better as a team defender, doing an outstanding job of making the right rotations and helping out his teammates, digging down on the post, closing out on shooters, and finding ways to make plays off the ball, averaging 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per-40 minutes.
Looking at his offensive numbers from his freshman year at Duke, Winslow would seem to fit the profile of a player who could also spread the floor in Detroit–he shot 41.4 percent from the arc in 2015. However, his struggles in shooting off the dribble suggest there’s a need for an expanded repertoire around the perimeter.
As in Johnson’s case, the Pistons stood as the fourth team Winslow’s visited thus far, with no future workouts currently planned (though more could pop up). In addition to Detroit, Winslow’s met with the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, and Denver Nuggets, who hold the fourth, fifth, and seventh picks, respectively. The Sacramento Kings are the lone representative between picks four and eight who have yet to work out either Johnson or Winslow.
Dawson makes his case
Meanwhile, Michigan State’s Branden Dawson finds himself fighting an uphill battle. Early signs suggest Dawson may go undrafted next week, but the 6-foot-7 forward knows that won’t mark the end of his journey.
“I don’t think it’s over,” Dawson said of the possibility of going undrafted. “I believe if you put in the work your time will come. There are plenty of guys that did not get drafted but they are on a roster. So I am not going to stop working.”
One way or another, early returns suggest the high-flying Dawson must continue establishing a semi-reliable game along the perimeter. He proved to be a force inside at the college level but questions remain as to whether his game can translate to a league that has recently placed a super premium on wingmen capable of spreading the floor via long-range shooting. While Dawson averaged 9.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks his senior season, he attempted zero 3-pointers.
Still, Dawson plans to continue clawing and competing, just as he did against Winslow in Tuesday’s workout.
“It’s just motivating,” Dawson said of battling against the lottery-bound Winslow. “He’s young and I’m kind of big brother, so I’m going to come in with that mentality. Today it was a great work out. Myself and him definitely competed on both ends.”
Full list of Tuesday’s invitees:
- Justise Winslow, 6’6”, Duke
- Bryce Dejean-Jones, 6’6”, Iowa State
- Branden Dawson, 6’6′, Michigan State
- Jabril Trawick, 6’5”, Georgetown