Photo credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

CrosswalkThis post is part of The Crosswalk, Crossing Broad’s reader submitted section. This one, by Harris Edelman, who has a great name, has been selected to be featured. If you’re interested in having your work appear on Crossing Broad, fill out the short sign up form here.

Let me begin by saying that I cannot stand the Duke Blue Devils basketball program. The current team, which of course won the national title, was just as despicable as ever. However, each time I watched the Devils this year I was captivated by the player I felt looked like an NBA talent more than anyone else in college basketball: Justise Winslow.

Not only may Winslow, with his raw strength and physical ability, be the highest potential reward player for the Sixers, he might even be the one with the least risk and the highest floor. According to most prognosticators, there seem to be eight draft entrees that have separated themselves from the pack, and at least six will likely or could be on the table for the Sixers at pick number three. Along with Winslow, they are big men Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley Stein, Latvian 7 footer Kristaps Porzingis, guards D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, and swingman Mario Hezonja, who currently plays in Spain’s professional basketball league with Porzingis. I’m not going to break down each one’s strengths and weaknesses, but I think there is really a simple way of deductive reasoning that leads to Winslow.

First, if you are in favor of the Sixers putting together a competitive team sooner rather than later, it is probably best to not draft another big man, as they have two, hopefully, cornerstone 7 footers in Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel with 6′ 10″ Dario Saric on the way after next season. Next, risking a pick on guys like Mudiay, who played in China this past season, and Hezonja may not be the Sixers prerogative as they have had more limited access to them than they have of players that played in the United States (as a side note, Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling reported that Sam Hinkie was the only NBA General Manager to watch Mudiay in person).

That leaves us with Russell and Winslow. Here, I believe their respective positions are what sets Winslow apart. Point guard is, by far, the most stocked position in the NBA, and having a great point guard does not help as much as having the elite swingman. Hell, the Rockets made it to the conference finals playing Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni because they had a dominant wing in James Harden. They also defeated Chris Paul, arguably the best point guard of this generation. We just watched LeBron James, with no starting point guard, sweep a Hawks team starting All Star point guard Jeff Teague, All Star power forward Paul Millsap, and All Star center Al Horford.

You could make the case that the MVP of the league and the best player on the best team this year is a point guard, but that team also happens to feature a wing who was All-NBA third team in 2015 and another wing who was 2015 Defensive Player of the Year runner-up.

Okay, enough trashing of the other guys. I think Winslow can be a really good player. Physically, he is comparable, although stronger, than 19 year old Harden. According to, Winslow has an inch in height on Harden (6’6.5″ to 6’5.25), but their wingspans are within half an inch of each other. They both weighed in at 222 lbs., but Winslow’s chiseled figure is only 5.3% body fat while Harden’s was a much larger 10.1%. Obviously they are also comparable because they are both left-handed.

From a talent standpoint, Winslow is not nearly the shooter that Harden is, but he is much superior, possibly already, than Harden is on the defensive end. Mike Schmitz from Draft Express does a really nice job of breaking down Winslow’s strengths  (and weaknesses) in his scouting report videos. Those clips feature Winslow going end to end in transition like Harden, generating turnovers and blocks a la LeBron James, and stifling his man on the defensive end like Kawhi Leonard.

While it is optimistic to project any draft prospect to ever get to the level of those three superstars, the proof is in the film. And there’s a lot more room for Justise Winslow to get even better.