Sick of people complaining that Michigan commits are ranked too low? Well, we found a way to complain that they're ranked too high! VERY ON BRAND
Can this be fixed? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
This edition of the hoops mailbag begins with a question that ended up being far tougher to answer than I expected.
What are the biggest 3P% jumps over a career for Beilein at Michigan? Is it reasonable to hope that X and Matthews can get up to that 35 percent head-above-water mark?
While there are several examples of players whose three-point percentage improved at Michigan, the nature of high-level college basketball makes it very tough to draw wide-ranging conclusions. Many of the players in that group—Caris LeVert, DJ Wilson, Moe Wagner, to name just a few—posted tiny samples in their first year.
Even among the Beilein players who have more of a statistical base with which to work, it's tough to pick out his impact without a seriously deep dive. Glenn Robinson III never shot the ball very well from the outside at Michigan but he's grown into a decent NBA marksman; would we have seen that if he stuck around another year or two? The same question applies to Kam Chatman, a 26% 3P shooter in two seasons at Michigan who canned 41% on five attempts per game following his transfer to Detroit. Some of Beilein's skill development work surely played into the improvement of each player, but it's impossible to measure the precise impact.
We're left with cherrypicking examples. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman has an encouraging combination; his volume and percentage both went up substantially and he had to rework his mechanics. That last bit of of particular relevance since Zavier Simpson is going back to "ground zero" to fix his shot. MAAR also went from purely a spot-up shooter to a player capable of drilling a solid percentage off the bounce, which is definitely relevant to Charles Matthews, who's likely to take on more pick-and-roll possessions.
We've seen a lot of evidence that Beilein can identify and develop good shooters even if they're not necessarily tearing it up from beyond the arc in high school—MAAR, Wagner, and Wilson went from prospects whose range was questioned to integral pieces of one of the country's most lethal shooting teams in 2016-17. It's tougher to say, on a case-by-case basis, if Beilein can always fully tap that potential in the short window a player is on campus; as Jason Kidd can attest, a reliable outside shot can take a long time to develop. For every MAAR there's a Darius Morris.
This isn't a complete punt on the question. I believe Matthews will end up in the passably decent range this season; his form is solid and he knows that's the main thing between him and an NBA career. I don't have as much confidence in Simpson making that breakthrough in 2018-19; he's overhauling his mechanics and his peripherals aren't encouraging—namely, he's a career 55% free-throw shooter. (This is admittedly a concern for Matthews, as well, but at least his free-throw shooting improved from his woeful Kentucky mark. Simpson went the wrong way last year.)
I should note this isn't a death knell for the offense by any means. Michigan made the title game with both of those players starting, after all, and they each should be more effective in the pick-and-roll (here's more detail on that with a focus on Simpson and Jon Teske).
[Hit THE JUMP for the recruiting focus after DJ Carton and more.]