Eye on the Draft: Justise Winslow

Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins are current examples of proof to the theory that sometimes talent is in the bloodline. It's not the most important thing on the scouting report, but what a player's parents did professionally, and whether it involved athletics does factor into some team's overall evaluation of players before they are drafted. (Currently the Celtics have two players who's father also played in the NBA: Jae Crowder-Corey and Phil Pressey-Paul)

Teams & general managers who follow that kind of gameplan may want to take a close look at the Duke Blue Devils' Justise Winslow. Now Justise's father Rickie Winslow didn't exactly have a legendary NBA career. He played seven games and a grand total of 45 minutes played for the Milwaukee Bucks before being waived. But the elder Winslow went on to have a good career playing in the Euroleague in Turkey. He also was an imposing force for the Phi Slama Jama teams of the University of Houston that included Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

Safe to say that Justise has spent a lot of his life around basketball, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The freshman at Duke is a strong and athletic wing that at 6'6" and 225 pounds, has a body that is NBA ready at 19 (today is his birthday). This is a very poised, confident wing who plays with intensity, but not out of control. His versality and awareness make him a huge threat offensively even without a true jump shot, which would be his glaring weakness.

He's a vicous finisher at the rim and does have some 3-point shooting ability, but his mid-range game and overall shooting touch need polishing. An above average passer and ballhandler. Defensively he is an animal and ready to cause havoc immediately. For college hoop fans, he's become widely known for his chase down blocks.

Though he hasn't scored much so far in the tournament, Winslow has played great for Duke. Against Robert Morris in the first game he posted 6 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and a block. In the next round, San Diego St. had no answers for Winslow as he finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks and 4 steals. That's quite the swollen stat sheet.

During the regular season Winslow has had ups and downs due to a shoulder injury in early January, but since recovering, he's been the most consistent wing in college basketball and is very likely a lock to be a top 10 pick.

He finished out the year for the Blue Devils with averages of 12.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 49% from the field and an impressive 40% from 3-point land.

Some will say his offensive output is drawing a benefit from being able to play alongside one of the top big men in the nation in Jahlil Okafor, but while that's true, so is the flip side. For Winslow, the versatility is there in abundance. He's a confident, strong, smart young man. The kid brings the total package minus the j, and that can be fixed with time.

An interesting note for Celtics fans: Winslow and Celtics' rookie Marcus Smart have played together for a short stint in the past.

Via Ricky O'Donnell of SBnation.com:
It's also no coincidence he's been a member of Team USA for years given the uniform he wears now. If Mike Krzyzewski was playing a long game to recruit Winslow, Okafor and guard Tyus Jones, it certainly paid off. Okafor and Jones were part of a Team USA's 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship team, while Winslow joined at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championships. Winslow was youngest player on the 2013 U19 FIBA World Championship roster. He and Okafor were the only high school players at the time on a roster that also included Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton.

NBA comparisons to Winslow: Best case - Kawhi Leonard/Jimmy Butler. Worst case - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Winslow is at an elite level when on the break & in the open court, and he's sure to be a frequent on Sportscenter. He's also got a bit of Lebron James in him in the regard that when he puts his head down & bullies his way to the rim, few have the fortitude to stand up and defend against him. It's likely to either end in a bucket or a trip to the line for Winslow.

Barring injury, Winslow is almost a lock for the top ten. It will take some luck or manuevering for the Celtics to be able to acquire his skills. Much like Arizona's Stanley Johnson, Winslow could step in and fill a need for the Celtics immediately. Johnson is probably the better offensive talent, but Winslow is more consistent and has the better size.

From Chad Ford of ESPN.com: "If the draft were held today, I think the scouts would take him as the first wing."

Without a doubt Justise will have a longer career than his father Rickie Winslow did. He is one of the few prospects in this year's draft class that is likely to start right out of the gate once he reaches the NBA.

If he can fine tune his left handed shooting stroke and add some post moves this offseason I think the top 5 in next year's draft is a real possibility for him. So if you're a Celtics fan banking on Justise Winslow suiting up in green & white, you'd better pray on those ping pong balls...

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Top photo Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Photo w/Okafor- Ryan M. Kelly/AP
Photo w/Dad - Jake Nyquist