Justise Winslow wouldn't be down if he fell to Pistons

Terry Foster
The Detroit News
Justise Winslow

Auburn Hills – Duke forward Justise Winslow would be a longshot for the Pistons in the NBA draft next Thursday. Arizona forward Stanley Johnson probably would be a sure bet. But both small forwards were on the Pistons' draft radar on a day they introduced the power forward of the future in Ersan Ilyasova, who they acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.

In a twist of irony they both worked out with the Pistons at their practice facility -- Johnson on Monday, and Winslow on Tuesday, along with Michigan State's Branden Dawson.

Johnson begged the Pistons to pull the trigger on him before he left on Monday. Winslow said he had a good workout with the Pistons and he would not be upset if he ended up in Detroit -- though he is projected to go higher than No. 8.

Winslow is a 6-foot-6 small forward / shooting guard that can fill it up from the outside. His 41.8 3-point shooting percentage is intriguing for a guy like Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who is trying to place shooters around center Andre Drummond.

Winslow is more than just a shooter. He is a tough, physical guy that attacks the rim and has a good mid-range game.

Winslow's stock grew during Duke's NCAA championship run. The New York Knicks might use the fourth pick of the draft to select him, although they are looking to trade down. Orlando, which has the fifth pick, might also select Winslow.

He said dropping to the Pistons would not bother him.

"My dream is to make the NBA regardless to where I get picked," he said after his workout Tuesday. "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."

If he drops to the Pistons, Winslow would slide into the small forward position alongside Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Jackson, Ersan Ilyasova and Andre Drummond. That would allow the Pistons to spread the floor and free things up inside for Drummond.

However, shooting is not his only strength. Winslow is also a very good defender. He uses his big frame to bump smaller guards off their routes and disrupt pick-and-roll opportunities. He was just the second player under Coach Mike Krzyzewski to be 6-6 or under to average 6.0 rebounds or more. He averaged 12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists while logging 29.1 minutes in his only season at Duke.

"It (defense) wins you games," Winslow said. "All the press and the attention goes to the offensive end, but if you stop them more then you have to score less. It makes your job easier so it is something I take personal."

Justise Winslow on defense: "All the attention goes to the offensive end, but if you stop them more then you have to score less."

Winslow is a confident player and said he won't put limits on his game.

"I want to be the best player in the draft years down the road," Winslow said. "It is going to take a lot of hard work but I believe in my abilities. I am not going to say I am just going to be a spot-up shooter or a guy that is just going to play defense. I am going to try to maximize all of my potential."

Dawson is not as talented as Winslow, but he also uses physical superiority to attack the paint and make solid post moves. He stands just 6-6 but left Michigan State as the school's all-time blocks leader (142). He was also sixth in steals (163), 25th in scoring (1,309 points), and he is one of only three MSU players to finish with 1,000 points and 100 blocks. The others were Draymond Green and Adreian Payne.

Dawson has consulted with MSU coach Tom Izzo, assistant Mike Garland, Green, Payne and other players that went through the MSU system. They told him his basketball career doesn't need to be over if he doesn't get drafted.

"I don't think it's over," Dawson said. "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."

Other players that visited the Pistons were 6-6 guard Bryce Dejean-Jones from Iowa State and 6-5 guard Jabril Trawick of Georgetown.