Justise Winslow will devour opposing perimeters, and the Pistons must have him

Apr 6, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Nigel Hayes (10) works around the defense of Duke Blue Devils forward Justise Winslow (12) during the second half in the 2015 NCAA Men
Apr 6, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Nigel Hayes (10) works around the defense of Duke Blue Devils forward Justise Winslow (12) during the second half in the 2015 NCAA Men /

Welcome to the 2015 edition of PistonPowered’s Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams. Now that that’s out of the way, we really need to talk about Justise Winslow.

The only way Justise Winslow will be a Piston is if they move up into the top three in the Draft Lottery. And let me get this out of the way right now: if the Pistons land the No. 1 pick, I’d take Winslow over coveted big men Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns, who have long been discussed as the consensus top two in the draft.

What he does well

Was everyone paying attention Monday when Draymond Green dismantled the New Orleans Pelicans offense, including defending Anthony Davis as effectively as any human can? Or how about when Kawhi Leonard inhales the basketball whenever someone tries to dribble near him?

We’re fans of a team that has been so deprived of lockdown perimeter defense that we did things like talk about how Rodney Stuckey in theory could’ve been good defensively because he looked so fast and strong. And, although he works harder at that end than Stuckey, we’re doing the same thing with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — we’re excited about his defensive potential because of a flash here in there, but he’s yet to show a prolonged stretch of anything that could be described as elite defense.

Winslow is an elite defensive player right now. He has the size, athleticism and physical tools that are desired in a wing defender, and he matches that with otherworldy instincts that make him a terror waiting to be unleashed. Check out these chasedown blocks. Watch this one last, because holy sh*t.

There’s a misconception about defense that players can simply will themselves into being at least adequate defenders through effort. It drives me crazy, because it is insulting to the actual talent and intelligence required to excel on that end of the court. The Pistons have had players with the physical tools to be good defenders (Stuckey, Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond) who lack the instincts. They’ve had players who have the awareness necessary but lack the speed or athleticism (Kyle Singler struggled against speedier wings, Tayshaun Prince struggled against stronger ones). They haven’t had a true star at that end of the court since Ben Wallace, and they’ve really only had two in modern franchise history in Wallace and Dennis Rodman.

Winslow doesn’t just project as a good defensive player, he projects as elite at that end of the court.

OK, but you just said No. 1 pick. Just for defense?

Advocating a guy for No. 1 pick because of some chasedown blocks? Why not just take Lindsey Hunter then, right?

I wasn’t finished extolling Winslow’s virtues, though. Winslow’s defense was a known commodity heading into college, and it was thought his offense would develop over time — think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was similarly known for great defense but had a raw offensive game that has continued to be a work in progress as a pro.

Well … let’s just say Winslow’s offensive game blossomed quicker than expected. He shoots the ball well (41 percent from three). He has amazing body control and an ability to draw contact and still finish. He’s crafty around the basket. He plays intelligently — doesn’t force many bad shots, doesn’t turn the ball over much and is a willing passer. Although he’s not going to be a magician with the ball or anything, he’s really efficient with his dribble and gets to where he wants to go quickly.

So why is he worth considering if the Pistons land the No. 1 pick? His offense has caught up enough to his defense to make him the perfect fit for the Pistons. Don’t overthink this.