Evaluating Miles Bridges, Isaac Haas, and Cassius Winston

February 11, 2018

By Alan Lu

I decided to watch a Big Ten basketball game that took place on February 10th between Michigan State and Purdue, as this featured a couple of prospects that could end up going in the lottery, and this contest also went all the way down to the wire, as Michigan State’s star forward, Miles Bridges made the go-ahead shot with less than 3 seconds left to get his team the victory.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared on this day.

Michigan State’s 6-8 sophomore forward, Miles Bridges had a strong showing in his team’s win over Purdue.  He showed off solid all-around skills, shot the ball very well, and he also ended up making the game-winning basket to get his team the victory.  Bridges did a very good job of shooting the basketball to effectively space the floor for his team.  He really excelled at knocking down pull-up jumpers from all over the court, especially from the mid-range, and he also can make threes from well beyond the arc.  He can use crossovers and step-back moves to create separation between himself and his defender, and he also can make shots after running off of screens.

He also excelled at scoring on strong drives to the hoop.  Bridges managed to throw down a thunderous dunk from the baseline, and he also scored off the glass another time.  Plus, he also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Bridges generally threw good interior passes, and he would make the extra pass to find the open man, but he can be inaccurate with his passes at times, as he threw an off-target entry pass once that ended up getting intercepted.

Bridges did not haul in many boards in this game, but he was able to get several defensive rebounds against Purdue, as he managed to leap up to haul them in.  He also played good defense.  Bridges would contest threes to force misses, and he also stayed with his man to successfully challenge a shot on a drive another time.  He also managed to deflect a pass once.  But there was one play on defense where he went too high over the top of the screen, and his team should’ve called for a switch, but instead it lead to his team to allow a three-point basket out on the wing.

In general, Miles Bridges played very well, as he lead his team to a close win at home against Purdue.  He really excelled as a shooter and scorer when he was on the floor, and he had a solid all-around game to help get Michigan State the win.  He is an athletic, skilled combo forward that can help his team in a variety of ways, and he could likely end up being a lottery pick in 2018.

Purdue’s 7-2 senior center, Isaac Haas put forth a solid performance in his team’s loss to Michigan State.  He excelled as a scorer in the post, as he looked to get buckets early and often, and he was his team’s primary scorer in this game.  He also would set good screens for his team on offense.  Haas did a very good job of getting scores in the post.  He was quite effective as a scorer down low due to possessing great size and strength, as well as good footwork and shooting touch on the block.  He would often back down his man, and he would score on jump hooks as well as on turnaround jumpers.  Haas had a noticeable size advantage over his opponents, as this would help him get scores inside the paint, but sometimes, he would also miss shots when guarded, as he may not always create a good enough angle to take shots, and he also ended up shooting one low post shot from too far away late in the contest.

He also showed off fairly average playmaking skills when he was on the court.  Haas did not look to pass the ball often, but he can throw accurate passes from the post, and every once in a while, he can hit a cutter to set up a scoring chance for his team.  Plus, he also sets really good, firm screens on and off the ball, as he can free up his teammates to score on jump shots as well as on drives to the hoop, but he did commit a couple of turnovers, one was where he threw a hard pass that his teammate dropped, and another was when he had the ball ripped away from him when posting up.  Though he did not rebound the ball well when he was on the court, Haas was able to get his fair share of defensive boards against Michigan State, but sometimes he would forget to block out or he would be out of position, as this would lead him to allow opponents to get boards in his area, and sometimes he would end up giving up put back scores to the opposition.

Also, he did not play very good defense in this game.  For a positive, Haas managed to block a shot on a drive due to possessing fairly good timing on that play, but it went right back to the other team.  On the other hand, Haas had trouble defending screens.  He would tend to sag too far into the paint when his teammate would get caught on screens, as his team would allow opponents to score on numerous jumpers.  He also had a tendency to over-help on drives, as he would allow his man to get scores around the basket.   He occasionally even struggled to defend in the post, as he got backed down once to allow a score, and he also committed a reach in foul when attempting to pick off an entry pass.

In general, Isaac Haas is a tall, big-bodied center that is a skilled low post scorer, but he may need to improve in the other facets of the game.  He will need to improve his rebounding and defense, as well as show that he can still play well in significantly faster paced games, but Haas’ ability to score on the block could potentially enable him to be a second round pick for the upcoming draft.

Michigan State’s 6-0 sophomore point guard, Cassius Winston had a good showing in his team’s win over Purdue.  He was almost able to notch a triple-double as he was three rebounds away from accomplishing the feat, he is a smart, skilled playmaker that does a good job of running the team with the ball in his hands.  Winston did a good job of knocking down jumpers, as he excelled at scoring on pull-up jumpers from all over the court.  He also showed an adequate ability to get scores on drives to the hoop, as he is a crafty player that changes speeds well, and he can draw numerous fouls upon the opposition.  But sometimes, he would miss tough shots in the paint, as he had some trouble scoring in traffic.

He also showed off solid playmaking skills.  Winston is a strong facilitator that possesses very good court sense, and he generally throws solid interior passes off the dribble.  He can constantly hit the cutter to set up scores, and he throws a good lob pass to his teammates.  He also can throw dump off passes off of drives, as he is a quick, shifty guard that sees the floor well, but sometimes, he can be inaccurate in throwing entry passes, as it can end up sailing out of bounds.

Also, Winston did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would come away with plenty of defensive boards as he would run in quickly to get them, and he would sometimes push the ball up the floor to create transition scoring opportunities for his team.  He also played good defense, as he would heap on loose balls and contest jumpers to force misses.  In summary, Cassius Winston played well, as he was able to contribute in many ways to help get his team the victory.  With his skill set, he could end up being a good pick for a team in the second round whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Purdue’s 6-8 senior forward, Vince Edwards did not shoot or score the basketball particularly well in this game, but he was able to excel in the non-scoring related elements of this contest against Michigan State.  Edwards generally struggled to make shots consistently, but he did do a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  On one play, he was able to score on a put back, as he ran into crash the offensive glass to get the ball, and he also drew an extra free throw afterwards.  Though he struggled to make jumpers, Edwards did make an open three off the catch after running off of a curl early on.

He had trouble scoring on drives to the hoop in this game, as he does not possess a great first step to the hoop, but Edwards managed to score on a tough runner once, but he did miss on a fadeaway jumper when posting up on a separate offensive possession.  Plus, he also displayed strong playmaking skills when he was on the court.  Edwards is a very unselfish player that can continually throw solid passes to his teammates, as he throws very good entry passes, and he can also hit the cutter, as he did so once to set up a dunk for a teammate.  He is a good anticipatory thrower that has good timing on his passes, and he can push the ball up the floor off of defensive boards, as he is like a tall point forward that can also play off the ball on offense.

Also, he did a very good job of grabbing rebounds for his team.  Edwards capitalized on his lone offensive board by turning it into a three-point play for his team, and he would often leap up to get quick defensive boards.  He also exhibited decent defensive skills.  Edwards would contest jumpers to force misses, and he also ran in to heap on a deflected, loose ball to help his team come away with a steal.  He also managed to successfully defend against a high post drive once.  However, sometimes he would gave up too much space to his man, as this would lead him to allow opponents to score on mid-range jumpers.  Another time, he did not get his hands up when defending a pass when defending the other team’s point guard, as his teammate didn’t cover the lob as his team allowed the opponent to score on an alley-oop dunk.

In summary, Vince Edwards had a fairly uneven performance, but he played rather well when he did not have to shoot or score the basketball.  He threw good passes, he rebounded the ball well, and he was active in contesting shots to force misses, but he also does not possess ideal athletic gifts, and he may not end up being an especially dynamic player on offense at the next level as a result.  Right now, he is a smart player that can excel as a ball mover and rebounder when he is on the floor, and he could end up being a potential second round pick on draft day.

Michigan State’s 6-11 freshman center, Jaren Jackson Jr. did not have a particularly good game on this day, as he really struggled to make shots, and he also tended to run into foul trouble, but he was able to make some good plays when he was on the floor.  Jackson really struggled to shoot the basketball, as he missed all of three-point shots off the catch, and he also missed on a wild put back attempt in traffic, as well as on a high post drive after using a spin move.  But he did do a good job of scoring in the post, as he managed to use a quick spin move to score on a turnaround jump hook due to possessing good ball handling skills, footwork, and shooting touch that time.

He also displayed good playmaking skills.  He managed to throw a nifty dump off pass after getting to the hoop off of a high post drive to set up a score, and he also found an open shooter to notch another assist.  Jackson did a good job of passing and handling the basketball in this game, but he did commit one turnover, as he was called for an off ball foul when jostling for low-post position.  He also did a good job of hauling in boards for his team.  Jackson was especially active at crashing the defensive glass, but there was one occasion where he committed an over the back foul when going for a defensive board.

Also, he played decent defense when he was on the floor.  Jackson managed to rotate in order to swat a shot on a drive off the glass due to possessing very good leaping ability, timing, and quickness to do so.  He also defended out on the perimeter, and managed to get his man to miss a shot on a drive, and he also successfully contested a three-point shot.  However, Jackson was also prone to committing fouls, as he was caught hand-checking on a drive, and another time, he got beat off the dribble in transition after he lagged back on defense, which led him to commit a foul on an opponent’s dunk attempt on the break.

In summary, Jaren Jackson Jr. is an athletic big man that could project to be able to score in a variety of ways, as well as to be a shot blocker at the next level, but he can also be too inconsistent in games.  He can be prone to winding up in foul trouble, and he can struggle to get going on offense.  He is a talented player that may have a lot of upside, but if he goes to the draft, he will need to wind up with a patient NBA team that will take the time to develop his skills.  But in a favorable scenario, he could potentially thrive as a solid role player in the association.

Purdue’s 6-4 senior guard, Dakota Mathias had an uneven performance, as he excelled as a three-point shooter, but he actually was not efficient in scoring the basketball as he ended up taking more shots than getting points for his team.  He did pass the ball well as he managed to collect 6 assists, but he had trouble getting rebounds or defending when he was on the court.  He did a good job of knocking down three-point shots, as he can make shots off the catch, dribble, as well as when he dribbles or runs off of screens.  But he struggled to get scores inside the arc, and he has trouble getting all the way to the basket due to possessing only average at best athletic gifts.  He did pass the ball fairly well, as he can throw good interior passes, but he also managed to drop a catchable pass from Haas that led to a fast break scoring opportunity for the other team. 

He also had trouble getting rebounds or defending when he was on the court, as he had trouble staying with his man, which would lead the other team to score on jumpers as well as on drives to the hoop.  In summary, Dakota Mathias is a skilled basketball player that can shoot and pass the basketball, but he may possess limited upside likely due to possessing below average athletic gifts.  He had trouble getting all the way to the hoop, and he struggled to make shots when he would attempt shots inside the arc.  He also does not move too well laterally, and he had trouble guarding quicker players, as he was tasked with guarding Miles Bridges for most of the game.  Still with his skill set, Mathias could end up on an NBA summer league team in the future, as he may possess a similar skill set to former Iowa State guard Matt Thomas.

Michigan State’s 6-4 junior guard, Matt McQuaid shot the ball well to help get his team the win over Purdue.  In this game, he particularly excelled at making threes, and he was able to run off of a screen and dribble around prior to knocking down a pull-up three once.  Plus, he managed to jump a pass that Mathias dropped from Haas to get a steal on the defensive end.  McQuaid is a skilled basketball player that shoots the ball well, and he could end up making an NBA summer league roster sometime down the road.

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