NBA comparisons are a tricky business – simply mentioning that Player X looks like Player Y gets everyone hot and bothered. Tempers flare – over NBA player comparisons!
Last week, I noted that Duke freshman Justise Winslow, a fearless, aggressive wing player who is left handed, reminded me of “well-rounded James Harden.”
Some people flipped out, so I’ll explain.
Winslow, one of the country’s best recruits last year, measured at 6-foot-6 in 2013 during USA Basketball camp. In Texas, he averaged 23.9 ppg during his 4-year high school career. Winslow could be a volume scorer putting up 18-20 a night at 90% of schools this year, but he choose to go to Duke, where he’s probably third fiddle (right now) to Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones.
The first thing NBA scouts love about Winslow is his explosiveness.
At 18, he’s still growing into his frame. Remember young James Harden? He was explosive at Arizona State, too when he was just 19:
The two obvious differences between 18-year old Winslow and Harden, who is now 25, a perennial All-Star, and one of the top scorers in the NBA: Defense and 3-point shooting. Winslow seems to enjoy defense. Harden, less so. Offensively, Harden is a much better 3-point shooter now than Winslow is. At Arizona State, Harden only made 44 three-pointers in 108 attempts as a freshman, then 58 as a sophomore. His modus operandi was clowning people off the dribble and getting to the rim.
He went to the foul line.
Winslow has made 10 3-pointers through eight games (on 26 attempts), which puts him on pace for – depending how far Duke goes in March – about 40-for-104. Right now, it seems highly unlikely he’ll return for his sophomore year.
Now? Harden is one of the biggest 3-point gunners in the NBA, attempting nearly 500 each of the last two seasons and making over six a game. I don’t think that will ever be Winslow in the NBA.
To recap: Size and attacking style similar; shooting Harden; freakish athletic ability and defense Winslow.
Fast-forward to last night: Jay Bilas, while calling Duke’s win over Wisconsin, noted that NBA scouts told him Winslow reminded them of James Harden.