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Cassius Thriving Early and Late

Cassius Winston keeps up his insane shooting

NCAA Basketball: Long Beach State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

This year, Cassius Winston has been phenomenal on the offensive side of the ball, and it’s paying off in a significant way for Michigan State. Winston is proving to be one of the most valuable players for the Spartans, and a key to igniting the offense. Per, Michigan State’s shooting numbers take a bit of a dip when Cassius leaves the floor. The chart below shows what happens to Michigan State’s shooting when Cassius is on the floor vs when he isn’t.

Going into the shooting a bit deeper, what I thought was most interesting is what happens when in early and late shot clock situations.

Late Shot Clock offense

According to in 2016-2017, Miles Bridges lead Michigan State by putting up 15.3% of shots taken after at least 25 seconds have run off the shot clock. Bridges has upped this number to 16.8% in 2017-18 but has fallen to second on the team in these attempts. Cassius Winston is now leading the team by taking 22.1% of MSU’s late offense shots.

So far this year, Winston’s shooting numbers actually increase when in a late offense situation. Winston has taken 20.8% of his field goal attempts in late offense situations. Cassius is shooting a blistering 60% from the field in the final seconds of the play clock. In all other situations he drops to a still flame throwing 57.5%.

Beyond the percentages, Cassius has found a way to get good shots in late play clock situations. Cash has taken 25 late offense shots, 17 of which have either been at the rim or from 3-point land. He has made 6 out of 11 from three, 5 out of 6 at the rim, and 4 out of 8 on two point jumpers. This equates to Cassius scoring an insane 1.44 points per shot. When you take the numbers from the rest of the team without Cassius, the points-per-shot in this situation drops down to 1.16.

As the above chart shows, there is a drastic drop when someone other than Cassius is taking these shots especially from three point range. Cassius has been crazy efficient in a situation that doesn’t necessarily set him up to be successful.


Michigan State has been devastating for opponents in transition in 2017-18. So far this year MSU is averaging 16.1 transition shots per game, 2.9 more than they attempted last season. MSU as a team is shooting 26.9% of their shots in transition with an effective FG% of 64.5%. When you take MSU out of transition, their effective FG% drops to 58.8%.

Tom Izzo is surely happy with the way that Winston has been pushing the offense in transition. According to, in 2017-18 the sophomore is averaging 3.1 transition assists per game up from 2 transition assists per game in 2016-17.

Beyond dishing out assists, he has made opposing defenses pay by getting out and scoring in transition. As this is being written, he has attempted 39 shots in transition and converted 24 of them. Winston has done most of his damage from the 3 point line where he has made a ridiculous 12 of 17 transition threes. He has struggled to finish at the rim in transition connecting on only 8 of 17 shots, but he has done well with 2pt jumpers making 4 of 5. All together Cassius is averaging a spectacular 1.54 points-per-shot while in transition while the rest of the team is at an also extremely high 1.36 points-per-shot.

As a fan, I want to imagine that Winston will be able to keep shooting at such a ridiculous level. But based on the outstanding statistical mark he’s at right now, this likely won't happen and he is probably going to regress.

With that being said, having a point guard capable of playing this way makes MSU an incredible dangerous team come March. His shooting has helped prove how extraordinary this MSU team can become.

As a reminder, you only need to win 6 games come tournament time and Cassius has done this for 15...

This year is fun.