GM: Joe Witherwax
With the 7th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets select
7) Justise Winslow, Small Forward from Duke
Photo credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Winslow is the real deal. At 6'6", he may be a bit on the small side for SF, but possesses plus athleticism, motor and skill to make up for it. I think Denver is ecstatic with their pick here. Here's why: he's a day one rotation player with upside to be a top-flight wing player for a decade.
First, let's get this out of the way: Winslow has drawn comparisons to James Harden, and it's easy to see why. Both are strong ambidextrous lefties with funky hair and funky stylings around the bucket that make them hard to defend. While still a good passer, Winslow is not as polished as Harden was, less of a shot creator off the dribble, but was a better shooter and defender in his year at Duke than Harden was coming into the league. Winslow gets to the free throw line 5 times per 36 minutes, roughly half of Harden's rate. So while there are certainly some similarities, Winslow is not a Harden clone.
Speaking of stats, Winslow's per-36 line last season as a true freshman playing on a loaded Duke roster against the top competition in the NCAA: 15.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.1 blocks, while shooting 48.6% from the field and 41.8% from 3. Those numbers are a lot more similar to a different strong, skilled, high-IQ two-way small forward: Paul Pierce.
The numbers and tape show is a do-it-all small forward who can shoot, keep the ball moving on offense and defend his butt off. In addition, his sneaky athleticism and skill on the break will get him some easy buckets on cuts and in transition, something the Nuggets did well in years past. Despite not being much of a high flyer, Winslow uses his strength and skill around the basket to be effective in the paint. He has some post moves and has shown effectiveness passing from there or really anywhere in the offense. One of the biggest things you can point to as a precursor to success - he flat works his butt off. Winslow was not known as a shooter before college but worked to develop a smooth, simple stroke and he became a consistent outside threat in just a year. He's as willing to hit the court or fight for a loose ball as anyone. That kind of work ethic, both in improving himself and in tuning in every possession, should serve him well in his NBA career.
Justice only shot 64% from the line and could certainly improve that. He hasn't shown to be effective in isos or pick-and-rolls, and the one skill he really lacks is shot creation. He just isn't a threat outside the paint off the dribble so his man can play drive anytime he dribbles the ball. There is some question whether he can maintain the kind of shooting he showed at Duke as flashes of his former poor form showed from time to time. Overall, there just aren't many weak spots in his game - Winslow has a high floor and if he develops any sort of outside game off the dribble to compliment his otherwise well-rounded attack, a high ceiling too.
With a team as in flux as the Nuggets - no clear head coach, much of its roster rumored to be on the trading block - it's hard to tell which player will be the best fit once the dust settles. Winslow gives Denver some flexibility, as he could fit in with the current Nuggets roster or as part of a rebuilding movement. Denver takes the best talent on the board here and let the chips fall where they may. Whether he can reach the lofty production of the names being bandied in comparison certainly remains to be seen, but Winslow has the tools to succeed.
|#1||Timberwolves||Jonah Jordan||Karl-Anthony Towns|
|#3||Timberwolves (from 76ers)||Jonah Jordan||D'Angelo Russell|
|#4||Raptors (from Knicks)||Arkm110||Emmanuel Mudiay|
|#5||Celtics (from Magic)||HEARNBURN||Kristaps Porzingis|
|#6||Kings||Jonah Jordan||Mario Hezonja|
|#7||Nuggets||Joe Witherwax||Justise Winslow|
|#16||Magic (from Celtics)||Andy Livingston|
|#20||Thunder (from Raptors)||ljjung|
|#23||Trail Blazers||Edwin Ortiz|