As per usual with first UV of season, some of this is a bit dated because of preview week.
I HAVE HEARD THE PEOPLE. I acknowledge that the people demand I eat a lemon. I will eat a lemon, because I guess I'd rather be the guy who eats a lemon on a technicality than doesn't eat a lemon on a technicality. I request that you, the people, acknowledge that my call that Desmond Morgan would be pushed out of Michigan's starting lineup appears to be a good call after he was probably Michigan's best LB in game one and led the team in tackles despite not technically starting. I plead nolo contendre to this lemon, basically.
We'll do it this Sunday at the podcast taping as part of this kid's quest to awarenessize people about weird food allergies that people don't understand at all yet, something Ace has been dealing with for years.
A new challenger appears! Elliot Mealer's Hoke impression is solid gold:
I dream that we will get enough of these to have a Hoke Impression Bracket someday.
Also gold. The Gameday Mean Tweets segment may have been shamelessly lifted from Jimmy Fallon, but lift away, sirs:
[EDIT: apparently this is an autoplaying video, so no embed. Here is the link.
I formally request you steal the thing where Ron Swanson reads tweets from young female celebrities next.
The ND cheating thing: resolved? Well, first: the investigation's tentacles reached out and added safety Eilar Hardy to the Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell, Davaris Daniels, Ishaq Williams quartet. Message boards are naturally buzzing with rumors ranging from they're all done for the year to they're all back by Michigan. As of three days ago the investigation was "reportedly complete"—that's when Hardy got suspended.
Everyone involved here was supposed to be out the door when it happened. FWIW, I had a good source suggesting that was the case as well. I didn't mention it because when Bruce Feldman is reporting something piping up with a "me too" is some Darren Rovell business, but now that there's doubt about the final outcome here it seems pertinent.
If there are reinstatements that impact the Michigan game they're going to have to come quickly, what with most of these guys missing nearly a month of practice. As of today's ND presser there was no update. Could you insert these guys on one or two days of practice? (Friday is a walkthrough.) Getting late.
One guy who is out. Austin Collinsworth did something to a knee ligament, missed the Rice game, and is projected to miss the Michigan game. As of three days ago he was out two to four weeks and getting some of that horse placenta action:
“There's a chance we could have him for week three,” Kelly said. “He had a PRP [platelet-rich plasma] treatment on the weekend, so we'll see what happens."
Rice is a spread, so ND was in a nickel package most of that game. They brought in Elijah Shumate next to sophomore Max Redfield; Mattias Farley played nickel the whole way. Shumate busted on the Rice touchdown. Shumate was a touted recruit, as you might expect.
One guy who doesn't read MGoBlog. That would be Scott Satterfield, the Appalachian State coach:
“This game was not what (Michigan) had shown all last year,” said Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield. “Why they did that, I don’t know. … It was all game. Even the last drive, they were playing man.”
They did that because they had been doing it all offseason. I don't think it's unreasonable for you to read, like, one article about Michigan's defense this year.
Oh that makes more sense then. After Wisconsin finished gacking the game away to LSU, Badger head coach Gary Andersen said he "didn't know" why Melvin F-ing Gordon got three carries after a 63-yard romp in the second quarter. It turns out there is a reason for this other than Andersen being hypnotized by Les Miles's scary voodoo eyes:
Badgers coach Gary Andersen said on Monday that his junior running back suffered a hip flexor strain during the game. Gordon later told reporters that the injury occurred late in the second quarter. …
"I should have let them know, let Coach A know and stepped up and told them, 'Look I need to be in there," Gordon said, according to Fox Sports Wisconsin's Jesse Temple. "I put that on myself."
So that makes a little more sense. Also making more sense: Joel Stave's arm injury has caused Wisconsin to shut him down. He was not available to relieve the overwhelmed Tanner McEvoy. Cold comfort to Wisconsin fans today, though. Jamiemac has a breakdown of the game—Warren Herring going out was a huge problem.
At least the game spawned an LSUfreek all-timer?
Here's a breakdown of the Beilein offense. No doubt you will see this again as Ace goes over it in detail for you after his high school football responsibilities have been completed, but here's 15 minutes of John Beilein's offense categorized by play type:
Wildcats continue dropping like flies. Northwestern DT Sean McEvilly, he of the most disappointing name pronunciation in the league, is out for the year with a foot injury. This is a problem. You no doubt remember Michigan's offensive line looking functional against the Wildcats last year. Now take a starter off that line.
Also in personnel issues affecting distant games, Maryland loses receiver Levern Jacbos and some other guy. They are still set on receivers thank you.
McGary clarification. Many folks picked up on part of the McGary VICE interview in which he seems to say "so what, I committed a literally victimless non-crime" about his draconian NCAA suspension. This is a hot take even if it is a correct hot take. But he's really talking about people annoying him on social media:
"I still get people on Twitter and Instagram still commenting on stuff, saying, oh, you did drugs. Well, you know what, I did, whatever. So what? I learned from it. It was in college. They'll understand when they're in college."
He does say what he did was "the opposite of harming somebody" and "just don't get caught," which is a take hot enough for me.
More Pastujov hype. This one is for the older brother Nick.
Michigan commit Nick Pastujov plays a perfect mix of aggression and skill. Difference maker when breaking down the play, soft hands.
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) August 24, 2014
Solar car! Michigan wins again yo.
Blind recommendation. This just went up so I haven't had a chance to read it but Smart Football on the MSU defense is going to be worth your time.
Another nail in the already quite-nailed coffin. Patrick Omameh is probably going to be Tampa Bay's starting right guard this fall. So Michigan had a line with three NFL players on it in 2012 and Denard Robinson and couldn't run the ball except with Denard Robinson.
I can link this now. Jane and Ace talked about their experience of the Horror on EDSBS.
The second half is a haze of Michigan pushing their way back in miserably slow fashion. I spent much of it staring at the clock. I had no idea how many emotions were building until… Mike Hart gave Michigan a one-point lead with a remarkable, weaving touchdown run from around midfield with under five minutes left. One of my roommates, standing next to me, literally wept with a mixture of joy and relief.
(Jane: I had left the stadium by then. I couldn’t do it. I saw where this was going, and I strongly believed that if I went home and went to sleep, I would wake up and this would all be a horrific dream. As a small child, I used to have nightmares that a raptor dressed as a postal worker ate me while my parents stood and watched. I have significant experience in bad dreams. I watched the rest of the game on ESPN’s Gamecast.)
This is literally the only thing I have read about the 2007 game despite the entire universe breaking their longform budget to provide opportunities for me to do so.
Do you think you may be getting ahead of yourself, sir. AP:
Michigan power running game looks like glory days
Have we learned nothing from last year's "IT LOOKS LIKE ALABAMA!" quote from Gerry DiNardo?
One sign this may not be a very clued-in article: the repeated use of fictional house divided child "De'Veon Bell." Not that I wouldn't take De'Veon Bell on my team. That would be like trying to tackle a centaur.
Etc.: Saturday game replay. All explanations of why the Appalachian State rematch was scheduled have far too few fantasies about scorpion pits for my taste. Will Leitch on being a part of the studio audience. Scouting Christian Hackenberg. Nussmeier gets an 11: nuts and gum.
Want an amateur NPSL soccer team in town? Here's an indiegogo for it.
— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) August 1, 2014
This is what is called a face turn. Pelini should start entering stadiums with his own corn-oriented theme music.
Reduced price. Michigan has cut the waiting list fee from 500 dollars to 150 for the 2015 season. That's the one with OSU and MSU games on it. I think we've officially hit the limit of what people will pay. Also, this… this is not a good thing to title your page about buying season tickets.
Watching football is not supposed to make you feel like you're going through twoadays and want to die.
Our lack of post depth and experience: slightly less exploitable. A couple of Big Ten big guys will not take on Doyle/Donnal and company, for reasons pedestrian and mysterious. The pedestrian one: VT transfer Trevor Thompson did not get a waiver at Ohio State and will redshirt. OSU does still get fifth-year Temple transfer Anthony Lee, so not a huge blow.
The mysterious and potentially more important: MSU stretch four Kenny Kaminski has been booted permanently. The crack MSU beat will no doubt have full details on the reason for his dismissal sometime after the sun turns the Earth into a smoking cinder bereft of life, so look out for that, Titan News Network.
Kaminski got only ten minutes a game last year, but he shot 50% on threes. This is Not Bad. Izzo kind of had a conniption fit about everything else about his game, because Izzo. Without any post types in the incoming class, MSU now will rely on Branden Dawson even more than they would have normally and lack the ability to insert a defense-stretching option for times when that would be good.
Now that I put it ion paper, this is less important from a Michigan perspective. Kaminski was a changeup option that a game against Michigan does not invite.
This is an interesting thing. I can't embed this at all, but here's a fascinating graph of the evolution of NFL players' height and weight over time. As you might expect, things get larger and heavier. The interesting bit is the split.
Increasing specialization has seen a class of OL/DL types that have totally separated from people who weigh 270 pounds. 280? 290? Do not apply.
Yea, and thine bagels shall be coated in whatever toppings you desire. Michigan's compliance twitter feed is slowly morphing into Leviticus, and I'm okay with that.
Football preseason practice shall begin with a five-day acclimatization period.
— Michigan Compliance (@umichcompliance) August 4, 2014
During the first two days of the acclimatization period, helmets shall be the only piece of protective equipment student-athletes may wear.
— Michigan Compliance (@umichcompliance) August 4, 2014
ON THE THIRD DAY OF THE ACCLIMATIZATION PERIOD, YEA, THE DOLOMITES DID DON PADS AND VENTURE FORTH INTO THE FIELD OF PLAY.
Happy! Sad. Mitch McGary is doing stupid dunks on Vine.
There's another one where he flips it up to a teammate with his feet. #McGaryForUSMNT
Unfortunately, I am totally not over this. File me under sad bastard mooning at the record store in a Nick Hornby novel in re: reaction to any and all McGary things. Oh yeah I'm really happy for him it sounds like he's doing great oh I'm doing fine you know just buying these records and so sad that I feel like I'm dissolving every day no no man I'm fine.
/plays The Cure for 12 hours straight
Is there an It Gets Better for Mitch McGary withdrawal?
It's called the Big Ten for a reason. That reason is "we don't even know anymore." But we can have a reason again! Kirk Ferentz said that this could happen:
Kirk Ferentz said he could see the Big Ten going to 10 conference games. "If we're going to nine, I don't see why not," he said.
Money, probably. I am beginning to wonder about the relative value of a home and home versus two bodybag games; surely the increased interest from scheduling, say, Iowa, is now just about enough to offset the fact that you're playing a road game once TV factors in.
Rittenberg's take is cynical, but probably accurate:
How many Big Ten teams would get into the playoff with a 10-game league schedule if the higher-regarded SEC plays only eight conference contests? It's all about the playoff and it doesn't matter how you get there as long as you get there. That's how the Big Ten must approach scheduling.
I find it hard to believe that a committee is going to pick a team with an extra loss, even if it had a tougher schedule. And it's debatable whether the committee will even see it as a tougher schedule given the recent direction of the league.
If adding a tenth game induces Big Ten teams to strip out some of the very few comparison points we get before bowl season, all the committee will have to go on is reputation. That would be bad.
I am getting excited about hockey. The prospect of Copp/Compher/Larkin down the middle and the big hole on the blueline that Zach Werenski just filled combine to get me hype about what will go down at Yost this fall. Compher is tearing up the USA WJC camp going on right now:
Compher, who centered Team White’s top line between Fasching and 2015 draft prospect Kyle Connor, was arguably his side’s top player all the way through. He used his feet to take away time and space, and drew the ire of Team Blue with a hit in the corner right at the halftime horn. In the second half, the reigning B1G Freshman of the Year made a smart zone entry and executed a give-and-go with Will Butcher (COL) before finding Fasching at the doorstep for White’s second marker. …
Compher was a key cog at both ends of the rink all game long, applying pressure without the puck while showing his playmaking eyes en route to picking up two assists on the day. He worked hard behind the net for his first assist, and kicked back to the point for a secondary helper on the third White goal. The University of Michigan standout rounded out his effort with some excellent work at the left point on the power play. He nearly added a goal to his weekend resume with a shot that just missed high over the crossbar in the final minutes.
Meanwhile, Motte and Larkin combined to score a late winner against Finland.
The soccer game happened. I did not go, if you're curious. 55 bucks was about 40 too many for a friendly between a couple of teams I don't really care about. 109,000 people disagreed with that, so you got a packed Michigan Stadium and the tangible and intangible benefits of that. The broadcast must have said the words "Big House" a dozen times every 15 minutes; also the department made some money.
Hopefully that'll become something of an annual event. The cachet of having the largest stadium in the country is a natural draw for teams that can fill it. Hopefully they can figure out the turf issues.
Unfortunately the size of the playing surface is short of regulations for a real game, as was extensively discussed when Michigan Stadium was on a list of potential hosting venues for the USA's failed World Cup bid. Any real game would have to be played on a platform that sat above the actual playing field and wiped out viewing angles for big chunks of the stadium. I don't think Michigan Stadium will ever get serious consideration for a USA game because of that.
Oh man, lawyers. I mean that in a good way this time. Andy Schwarz, who was a plaintiff's witness in the O'Bannon case, has been writing big lawyerly pieces for Deadspin about the case. His latest is more of an overview of the two sides struggling to "fix" the NCAA. One, dubbed "Team Reform," thinks that the whole problem with the system is that the universities aren't funneling the profits back into the academic side. The other, dubbed "Team Market" is just like dude this is a joke now just let them get what they can.
I bring it up because Schwarz has a couple of places in the piece that sum up a ton of things I've been thinking:
I personally question the undertones of complaints that athletes may blow their payments on bling and tattoos, when we applaud college students for spending money on ephemeral activities like traveling to Florence for a semester of wine and museums, but as a member of Team Market, I am willing to entertain the possibility that deferred payments will bridge the gap between paying suppliers and pleasing consumers and result in the most popular market-produced product. …"Fear of a Black Wallet" need not rule the country forever.
Fear of a Black Wallet! The paternalistic overtones of the arguments that start and end with "but then they'll have money" summed up in five words. They might waste their money, sure. It's being wasted now on compliance.
His sarcastic survey questions are also amazing:
This may also explain some of the surveys that we see from time to time, including even the one the NCAA presented in the recent O'Bannon litigation. The question wasn't framed as "Do you prefer watching undercompensated athletes play if it means you can rationalize your love of sports as somehow more noble than you secretly know it is?" or "Does your interest in college sports increase as more value is taken from the athletes and then ostensibly used to further more noble goals?"
I'm noticing this guy writes really long sentences now that I'm quoting him. Anyway, hardcore fans are an interesting exception to the survey trend wherein people say they'll like college sports less if it's less amateur. Guilty as charged.
I promised I'd write a post this week on how Michigan's latest crop of NBA players fit in with their new teams. When I said this, I forgot a fundamental aspect of the NBA offseason—namely, that the post-draft free agency period is complete and utter chaos, so projecting what teams will look like in October can be rather difficult. Adding to the difficulty: two of the three Michigan draftees went to teams whose front office decisions are often summed up with a hearty ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Undeterred, here's my best effort.
Nik Stauskas, Sacramento Kings
In three of the last four years, the Kings have attempted to pick their shooting guard of the future, first with BYU's Jimmer Fredette in 2011, then Kansas' Ben McLemore in 2013, and now with Stauskas. Fredette is now on the Bulls. In related news, the Kings haven't been very good, winning just 34% of their games in each of the last two seasons. They're also a team with a lot up in the air at the moment: they just signed point guard Darren Collison, making it very likely restricted free agent PG Isaiah Thomas will play elsewhere next season. The Kings have rumored interest in Detroit's Josh Smith and several others; after a very disappointing rookie season, McLemore could even be on the table as trade bait.
It seems unlikely, however, that the Kings would give up on the #7 overall selection from last year's draft so quickly, even with the brutal 7.8 PER McLemore posted last year (the NBA average is 15). Sacramento needs both shooting and bench scoring; Stauskas obviously could provide both, and coming off the bench as a rookie in need of some development, especially defensively, may be the best situation for him anyway. That's how SBNation's Sactown Royalty sees Stauskas getting used in year one:
But the "good news" for the Kings is that their needs are many, including production from their starting shooting guard and wing production from the bench. And this is where Stauskas could potentially help the Kings in a big way.
The drafting of Stauskas is not a death knell for Ben McLemore. Based on how McLemore finished the season, I am guessing that he has at least a slight leg up on Stauskas right now. I'm not saying that the starting job has been given to him by any means. I am saying that he is likely ahead of Stauskas in the here and the now. But when it's all said and done, one of these guys could start and one could get some serious burn off the bench, including in three guard sets. The Kings have a definite need at the positions that Stauskas could fill.
The Kings have a lot of holes left to fill, so this outlook could change dramatically even in the coming hours, depending on what they do with Thomas and McLemore. A Microwave-type role seems ideal for a rookie Stauskas, however, and once he gets used to the NBA game there's a good chance he challenges McLemore for the starting spot at the two.
Mitch McGary, Oklahoma City
McGary has the most obvious fit among Michigan's draftees, though it's one that'll likely have him riding pine for much of his rookie year—not necessarily a bad thing for a guy coming off back surgery. Landing on a great team that doesn't need immediate help up front is a great situation for McGary; he'll be able to ease his way into playing time, and down the road there should be opportunity for much more.
Right now, OKC is pretty much set in the frontcourt. Serge Ibaka is a star, coach Scott Brooks has a baffling affinity for the plodding Kendrick Perkins, Steven Adams had a breakout playoff season as an energy/tough guy with a good deal of untapped potential, and Nick Collison is the wily veteran who provides solid rebounding, defense, and a little scoring touch while possessing the versatility to play the four or the five.
Collison's role is the one McGary projects to best, and given Collison's minutes have waned over the last couple seasons, he'll have an opportunity to carve out a small role on a title contender this year—an Adams/McGary pairing off the bench could be a heck of an energy boost. (Also, a potential riot-starter.)
The real opportunity for playing time should come in 2015-16. Collison and Perkins are both entering the final year of their respective contracts; entering this season at 34 years old, it's unlikely Collison will be back. Perkins should be either gone or in a reduced role; even Brooks finally realized last season that he needed to dial back the big man's minutes. A big man rotation of Ibaka-Adams-McGary should be something to build around for the future—you know, alongside those Durant and Westbrook fellows—and that future may not be far off.
Glenn Robinson III, Minnesota Timberwolves
We're well aware that Robinson needs significant development before he's ready to thrive in the NBA. Not only does his defense need work, he's going to have to improve either his jump shot or ballhandling (preferably both) to be a reliable player in halfcourt sets. GRIII's transition game is the one aspect that won't be questioned from the beginning—he can run, fill a lane, and finish with the best of them.
No matter what, Robinson should have a limited role in his rookie season. He's transitioning from playing the four at Michigan to being a small forward in the NBA, which means guarding a wholly different type of player—most rookies struggle with defense as they get used to the higher level of play, and GRIII will be no different. The Wolves don't have a lot of talent on the wing, but they've got enough to allow a second-rounder to ease his way into the rotation.
While the role should be relatively small regardless, it's tough to project anything further with Minnesota considering the current state of the team. Their superstar power forward, Kevin Love, is going to be traded this offseason; he has a player option for 2015-16 that allows him to opt out of his contract and Minnesota has little-to-no chance of re-signing him, so they must act soon or they'll lose one of the league's most valuable players for nothing. They've been in serious trade talks with Golden State; if those fall through, several other teams will line up for a shot at Love, especially once free agent Carmelo Anthony lands on a squad.
Jordan Morgan, Minnesota Timberwolves (Summer League)
J-Mo's situation is pretty simple. He'll play for Minnesota's summer league team, and in doing so he'll hope to earn a training camp invite from any NBA team and/or impress an overseas squad enough to get a shot for a more guaranteed contract. If Morgan is looking for job security, the latter route is the most preferable.
If that doesn't work out, I think Morgan will land on his feet just fine.
While Michigan didn't quite end up getting their entire starting five from the 2013 national title game into the first round, last night's NBA Draft proved a major success for the program. Here's an overview of what went down last night; next week, I'll take a closer look at how each U-M draftee fits in with his new team.
Nik Stauskas, #8 Overall, Sacramento Kings
Nik Stauskas went off the board at #8 to Sacramento, becoming the highest Wolverine selection since Dallas picked Robert Traylor (RIP) sixth in 1998 before trading him to Milwaukee. Stauskas, resplendent in a suit that probably cost more than my car, immediately celebrated with a perfectly executed three-goggle handshake with his dad. (His subsequent handshake with John Beilein wasn't quite so flawless.)
Afterward, Stauskas was asked about Michigan by someone who clearly never went to Michigan, because Zingerman's is way too expensive for students and the Art Fair takes place when almost nobody is on campus. He handled it well:
Q. Nik, Michigan is a very good school academically, great campus like Zingerman's, the art festival in Ann Arbor. Was it an easy decision? There must be a tough decision to say, I want to leave early, because it is a great school. Was there part of you that said, I should get my degree here and then go to the NBA?
NIK STAUSKAS: I definitely thought about it, but the biggest thing for me after this season was I felt like I was ready. I thought I had improved enough throughout the year, and I had made a lot of strides in my game and made the necessary improvements to make that jump to the next level.
Like I said, this has been a dream of mine my entire life. The fact that I had the opportunity to do it now, I feel like this is the right time. I understand that I could always go back and get my education after, which I fully plan on doing.
It's great to hear that Stauskas plans to finish earning his degree down the road. And yes, Nik, you were ready.
In the end, it turned out Stauskas separated himself quite a bit from the two players believed to be his biggest competition as shooting guards projected to go in the mid-to-late lottery. Kentucky's James Young went to the Celtics at #17, while MSU's Gary Harris surprisingly plunged all the way to #19—he'll end up in Denver after a draft-day trade with Chicago.
Mitch McGary, #21 Overall, Oklahoma City Thunder
One of the most entertaining aspects of draft night is watching Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski announce every pick on Twitter well before the actual picks are announced, sometimes getting so far as three picks ahead of the telecast. Rarely does anyone scoop Wojo; when they do, sometimes it's because they're wrong.
So when John Beilein tweeted this out minutes before Oklahoma City selected Mitch McGary at #21 overall, it'd prove to be the second-greatest thing Beilein did last night (TEASER):
— John Beilein (@JohnBeilein) June 27, 2014
John Beilein is better at your job than you are. There's no shame in this. Just accept it.
Meanwhile, MLive's Brendan Quinn passes along this fantastic quote from OKC GM Sam Presti, generally regarded as one of the best in the business:
"The last thing that is really, really impressive to us, and the reason that we value him even more, is that he's an incredible teammate -- just an incredible teammate," Presti said. "That was on display during the season when he missed a significant amount of time.
"I felt like I was scouting him on the bench while he wasn't playing. The way that he engaged with his teammates, his support was unwavering, his enthusiasm was unwavering. Combine that with his skill-set and and his intangibles, and that's a Thunder player."
If the Thunder don't use a future pick on Andrew Dakich, I'll be sorely disappointed.
Glenn Robinson III, #40 Overall, Minnesota Timberwolves
Wojo cruelly tweeted that Oklahoma City was considering GRIII with their second pick of the first round, which was not to be. In a really deep draft—Wichita State's Cleanthony Early lasted all the way to #34—he dropped to the tenth pick of the second round, but the team that nabbed him valued him much higher than that:
Robinson III 26th or 27th on #Twolves board, per Flip.
— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) June 27, 2014
At GRIII's draft party, his mother took a moment to note that this was the plan all along:
When the waiting was finally over, after the Timberwolves had finished the drama, Clay [Robinson's mother], along with Robinson took the podium.
She read a letter he wrote in high school about how he was going to miss school but that he was onto bigger and better things.
That in a couple of years, he would be playing in the NBA.
He called it.
With Robinson's selection, Michigan—as expected—ended with three players taken in the draft, tied with UCLA for the most among any school. However...
Jordan Morgan, Undrafted Free Agent, Minnesota Timberwolves
...that didn't mean Beilein's night was over. The last person remaining in the green room, Michigan's coach waited out every pick in the hope that a team would take a second-round flier on Jordan Morgan:
John Beilein will not leave until all of his players are drafted. pic.twitter.com/dH6WCBK1ba
— Daniel Feldman (@danfeldman31) June 27, 2014
John Beilein is the best. The absolute best.
Morgan didn't get picked, but he'll get a chance to earn a roster spot alongside GRIII, as he told Quinn today that he's joining the Timberwolves as an undrafted free agent. He'll get his shot on Minnesota's Summer League squad; they start play on July 12th, and you can find the whole schedule here. Even if Morgan doesn't get a spot on the Timberwolves, it's a great opportunity for him to audition for other NBA teams and scouts from other leagues.
How About The Pistons?
While Detroit lost their first-round pick (don't ask, or this vein in my head starts doing funny things), they used their second-rounder on Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie, considered a potential first-round prospect last year before coming back to school and suffering an ACL injury. How would I grade the pick?
Michigan's trio of early entrants will learn their NBA Draft fates tomorrow night, and it appears there's at least a puncher's chance Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary, and Glenn Robinson III all find their way into the first round. Here are the most recent projections and rumors for the three Wolverines as they await the moment they officially realize their professional dreams.
It doesn't appear Stauskas will fall any further than the #13 pick (Minnesota), and there's a solid chance he cracks the top ten. The Philadelphia 76ers own two lottery picks, at #3 and #10, and Stauskas appears to be an ideal fit for their second selection. CSN Philly states Stauskas would fit the team's needs "perfectly," as they lack shooting, which you may know Stauskas does rather well:
The Sixers are in desperate need of shooters to complement Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and whomever they draft with the third pick. Nobody in this draft shoots the ball better than Stauskas. Defenses always have to account for a shooter like Stauskas when he's on the floor. This would open up driving lanes for Carter-Williams and create more room inside for post players like Noel to operate.
Stauskas and Carter-Williams would form a dynamic backcourt. Both have good size and their skill sets complement one another very well. Stauskas is a solid enough ballhandler and decision-maker to play point guard in a pinch. Brett Brown would also have the option of bringing Stauskas off the bench. He would thrive in that role, providing instant offense the minute he enters the game.
The two other prospects who fit that mold and are expected to go in the same range are MSU's Gary Harris and Kentucky's James Young. After pre-draft workouts, Stauskas and Harris have seemingly separated themselves from Young, and Stauskas is consistently projected to go a spot or two above Harris.
A Sixers squad featuring MCW, Stauskas, Thaddeus Young, Nerlens Noel, and the #3 pick could be a really exciting young team to watch.
McGary has taken a cautious approach to the pre-draft process as he recovers from back surgery, as he detailed after working out for the Milwaukee Bucks, per UMHoops:
“It’s a little different, my situation with the surgery and everything else going into (the draft),” McGary said. “I thought this was was the best possible outcome for me — having a couple of limited workouts and getting my body back to where it needs to be and have the best chance in the draft. I talked to the assistant GM and the GM and they’re definitely interested in me.”
The Bucks own the #2 pick (not happening) and the first pick of the second round, but it appears they'll have to move up if they want to snag McGary. According to ESPN's draft insider, Chad Ford, there's good reason why McGary hasn't pushed himself through workout after workout:
I'm confident Mitch McGary has a promise in the 1st round. He's done just 1 workout. He's healthy. His camp has gone radio silent.
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 24, 2014
Hearing Hornets at 24 most likely destination for Mitch McGary to land. Source says they are the culprit of his draft workout shutdown
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 24, 2014
That's a little higher than the most recent spate of mock drafts had McGary going, but not by much: he was projected to go anywhere from the Miami Heat's pick at #24 (Ford) to the Dallas Mavericks' selection at #34 (CBS's Gary Parrish, who seems to think the marijuana thing will actually matter to the NBA, so... grain of salt) before Ford unveiled the info above.
While the Hornets don't have the NBA's most talented roster, they have some promise in the backcourt (namely PG Kemba Walker), a consistent 20-10 guy in center Al Jefferson, and a big hole at power forward filled last year by Josh McRoberts (an unrestricted free agent) and Cody Zeller. If McGary landed there, he'd have every chance at playing time once he's 100%, and he'd fit in great as an energy guy alongside the older, more polished Jefferson.
Glenn Robinson III
This is where it gets interesting, as nobody seems to have a great idea where GRIII could end up; he's projected to be picked anywhere from #21 by Oklahoma City (NBADraftNet) to the LA Clippers' second-round selection at #39 (Parrish). Most, however, have him right on the edge of the first round; ESPN's Jeff Goodman has him going to the Clippers at #28 overall, while his colleague Ford has Robinson playing for his father's old team after Milwaukee selects him with the first pick of the second round.
The Clippers seem like an ideal landing spot for GRIII. He wouldn't be asked to do too much right away on such a good team, but there could be opportunity for some early minutes at the three if Danny Granger doesn't re-sign after opting out of the final year of his deal, and at the very least Robinson would provide another high-flying fast break threat for Lob City.
Homerism caveat granted, I believe it'll be difficult for a player with Robinson's athleticism, pedigree, and potential to slip out of the first round, especially since most of the teams picking at the back end of the draft can afford to grab a guy who needs some development before being a major contributor. The development of his midrange game during his sophomore season could prove the key to him being the third Michigan first-rounder in this draft.
It's been just over a month since Mitch McGary announced his "decision" to go pro. The scare quotes are present because there was no decision to make if McGary were to act at all in his own self-interest.
This sucked. This sucked because Mitch McGary is a joy to watch on the basketball court, a 6'10" mace attached to a giant pendulum, swinging violently back and forth while pausing only to wreck shit. This sucked because he's equally fun off the court, with his unicycle and Bieber-crooning and invaluable coaching advice and generally making Michigan's bench seem like the best party on campus, even if McGary was the only one partying:
What sucked most of all, though, was the feeling that McGary had only scratched the surface of his potential, and factors almost entirely out of his control* limited our exposure to just 12 career starts. Mitch McGary's Michigan career lasted all of 966 minutes played. That's just over 16 hours. That's not nearly enough.
So while I had no trouble writing effusively about Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III after their departures, I've spent the last month struggling to put McGary's career into words. I try to analyze and am left instead with a whole lot of feelings. How does one discuss an athlete hyped to Webberian proportions before he ever enrolled who, apart from one brilliant six-game stretch, never produced as expected yet was beloved all the same?
Probably by ignoring all of that, sitting back, and watching him work, because again: when Mitch McGary was on the court, the only proper response was to drop everything and watch Mitch McGary. He didn't give you a choice in the matter. He grabbed your attention like so many entry passes:
McGary was a defensive force with impeccable timing. His steal rate as a freshman easily surpassed that of Trey Burke, Master of the Halfcourt Pickpocket. He protected the rim. He seemingly rebounded everything. Michigan's defense suffered mightily last season without McGary's interior presence and game-changing ability to erase opponent possessions.
He also boasted remarkable skill for a big man. Defensive boards turned into fast breaks in the time you could say "Unseld." Sometimes he'd eschew that route and just do everything himself. Occasionally he'd finish his coast-to-coast forays with a Rondo-esque fake behind-the-back pass. Speaking of point guard skills, he could thread multiple defenders without looking. Perhaps my favorite McGary play came in the Kansas game, when he hit a baseline turnaround right in Jeff Withey's face like it was routine, not a work-in-progress shot he'd rarely—if ever—utilized to that point.
He did these things while accepting a backup role until it was time to unleash him for the 2013 NCAA Tournament, playing in an offense that relied on him more as a garbageman than a creator, and being the team's #1 scholarship cheerleader and hype man.
Look at the GIF at the top of the post, one more time. It's a 25-point blowout of Northwestern, and there's McGary, showing more effort in one play than some guys do in four years. Sure, he lost the ball out of bounds, but it's not like you can be mad about it; even if it didn't end well, that play brought life to a dull affair, and we were all better for having seen it.
That's how I'll choose to remember Mitch McGary. The flashes of brilliance. The occasional mistakes born from genuine enthusiasm that bordered on excessive. Most of all, the feeling, after everything, that I enjoyed my life just that much more thanks to a big kid from Indiana who seemed to enjoy everything.
*Yes, there's the weed thing. Read that David Roth piece, then think about the punishment for McGary's transgression versus one of another Michigan center—the football one, Graham Glasgow, suspended for part of spring practice and one should-be-a-cupcake non-conference game for drunk driving. I find one of these things far worse than the other, and it's the one that puts other people's lives in actual danger.