Edson: MSU’s Winston Proves He’s Nation’s Best Point Guard

There is nothing physically imposing about Michigan State senior point guard Cassius Winston.

After all, he is only 6-foot-1 and weighs 185 pounds.

But he has all the bravado of a Cassius from the early 1960s – former heavyweight champion Cassius Clay, a.k.a. Muhammad Ali.

That’s because they both – to coin a phrase from the late Ali – “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Winston’s style is exactly that – he makes breaking down opposing defenses look effortless. He does it off the dribble, off the shot and in setting up his teammates for wide open shots.

That’s why he is the best point guard in the nation. And he looked it again on Sunday when the Spartans rolled to an 87-69 win over arch-rival Michigan.

Winston finished with a career-high 32 points to go with nine assists as Michigan State led from wire-to-wire. Teammate Xavier Tillman contributed 20 points and 11 rebounds, but make no mistake about it.

The defending Big Ten Conference Player of the Year is the person who makes the Spartans tick.

After a slow start – albeit because of a tough early season schedule – the Spartans are starting to roll as they attempt to defend their Big Ten title. They are 4-0 and alone in first place in the Big Ten. They are also 12-3 overall.

Michigan, under first-year coach and former Wolverine great Juwan Howard, is now 1-2 in the league and 10-4 overall.

But don’t sleep on the Wolverines. They were missing their best player – Isaiah Livers – on Sunday for the second straight game with a groin injury. He is almost as valuable to Michigan as Winston is to Michigan State.

And the Wolverines are capable of beating anyone in the country, as evidenced by their early-season victory over No. 1 Gonzaga. So while this test of rivals looked one-sided on Sunday, that’s simply not an indication of what Michigan can do.

The difference for the Spartans continues to be Cassius Winston, who’s simply the best point guard in the nation.

HOPE FOR THE PISTONS?: We’ve heard the latest bad news about the Pistons – Blake Griffin looks to be a shadow of his former self, Reggie Jackson is always injured and Andre Drummond is on the trade block.

But here was a piece of good news for Pistons fans over the weekend – No. 1 pick Seku Doumbouya got a chance to start and contributed two double-double games. Seku is the youngest player in the NBA at 19-years-old.

Included in that stretch was 16 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday night in a win against Golden State.

Seku played a team-high 38 minutes against the Warriors and showed some great moves and a high energy level.

He might be the one thing we remember about an otherwise forgettable Pistons season.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.