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2020 aggregate NBA mock draft 3.0: Michigan State players are climbing

More than a month into the college basketball season, we are starting to get a better picture of what the 2020 NBA draft will look like.

For example, Georgia Bulldogs freshman Anthony Edwards is beginning to separate himself as a near-consensus No. 1 overall pick. On the other side of the coin, though, several of the projected top selections (LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton) will miss extended time due to either injury or suspension.

In order to get a better read of the bigger picture, we collected opinions from the top experts and analysts that cover the draft. The latest 2020 NBA mock drafts from ESPN, CBS Sports, SI.com, Bleacher Report, NBADraft.net, The Athletic as well as USA Today Sports Media Group’s Rookie Wire were used for these rankings.

One of the most interesting takeaways is that the Michigan State Spartans have three players (Cassius Winston, Aaron Henry and Xavier Tillman) all trending up.

After making the Final Four in last year’s March Madness, the program was expected to take another leap forward for their 2019-20 campaign.

Despite three losses in their first 10 games, the Spartans still rank No. 15 overall this season. This can be attributed to the fact Michigan State currently has the third-best offense in college basketball, per KenPom.com.

They also have three of the most improved players since our last aggregate mock draft. The full list, and more on each of the MSU players moving up draft boards, is included below.



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Cassius Winston, Guard

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

AMD Rank: 29

Since our last AMD, this has moved up 17 spots in our rankings.

Despite already being 21 years old, the 6-foot-1 guard currently has a first-round grade from ESPN as well as Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports.

Winston has been one of the best distributors since he began at MSU. 67.1 percent of all field goals for the Spartans have been assisted, which is the sixth-most among all teams so far this season. His career assist rate (44.1 percent) ranks No. 1 overall among all college players who have played at least 50 games since 2009-10, via Sports-Reference.

During his freshman season, he had the second-best assist rate (46.7 percent) in the NCAA. Then as a sophomore, his assist rate (43.5 percent) trailed only Trae Young for the best in college basketball. Last season, his assist mark (44.8 percent) ranked third-best and behind only Ja Morant among all who played for teams that made the tournament.

But he has also shown strength as one of the more accurate shooters in the NCAA.

Winston was 75-for-151 (49.7 percent) from beyond the arc in 2017-18. That helped him join the exclusive 50-40-90 club for field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage. Even as a sophomore then, the guard was one of the few to have a membership with at least two three-point attempts per game.

There is enough NBA readiness to show he can contribute right away for a winning team.

Aaron Henry, Wing

AMD Rank: 33

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Since our last AMD, this has moved up 26 spots in our rankings.

Henry was of the players who helped himself the most during the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Then a freshman, he put up 20 points with 6 rebounds and 6 assists during a victory over LSU.

While he has not yet taken the leap some expected as a sophomore, draft experts still have confidence in him as a prospect. His highest ranking right now comes from Jonathan Wasserman, who has him at No. 28 overall (via Bleacher Report):

“The eye test on Henry looks more convincing than the numbers. He isn’t a high-level creator, which limits him in Michigan State’s offense. But the 6’6″ guard is hitting open shots, capitalizing on driving lanes and making impact defensive plays. This late, teams will overlook Henry’s production for his fit.”

Perhaps the best news for the wing is that there is room for improvement. However, there have also been moments that show what Henry is capable of accomplishing at the next level.

This season, for example, the sophomore has been one of the most effective shooters off the catch. He is averaging 1.78 points per possession on catch-and-shoot attempts in a set offense, per Synergy Sports, which ranks in the 98th percentile.

Henry is also shooting 72.7 percent at the rim, which is an especially solid rate for a wing. Overall, he looks like someone capable of being a 3-and-D player in an NBA rotation.

Xavier Tillman, Big

AMD Rank: 50

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Since our last AMD, this has moved up 13 spots in our rankings.

Michigan State has always been a team that plays better with Tillman on the court. Last season, for example, the big actually had the third-best box plus-minus in the NCAA — trailing only Zion Williamson and Brandon Clarke.

Jeremy Woo recently helped contextualize what professional teams may like about the 6-foot-8 junior (via SI.com):

“Tillman specializes in doing the dirty work and has been a largely unheralded yet invaluable piece of the Spartans’ success dating back to last season. He’s not particularly tall for a center but has a chance to be a quality rotational big in the pros with what he adds defensively and on the glass. Tillman has worked on extending his shooting range, and if he ends up being able to shoot the three, he’ll have a fairly strong window of opportunity as a role player. A lot of the things he does as a screener and defender don’t show up in the box score, and while he’ll never be more than a fourth or fifth offensive option, he might be able to thrive in that capacity.”

His best trait so far this season has been his ability to cut to the basket. He is shooting 15-for-17 (88.2 percent) on these attempts, per Synergy.

But he has also added value on the offensive glass and as a rim protector for Michigan State. His willingness and ability to make the most of time on the floor makes him a draftable professional prospect.

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