The loss of the dynamic Moritz Wagner to the NBA leaves a huge hole in the middle of the paint for John Beilein’s team. Michigan now looks to Jon Teske to fill that spot, albeit in a much different form.
Behind Teske, Beilein will call upon seldom-used Austin Davis and newcomer Colin Castleton to provide bench relief.
Measurables: 7’1’’, 260
Base Stats: 12.3 MPG, 3.4 PPG, 55/57 2P/FT%, 3.3 REB/G, 23 steals, 26 blocks
Key Advanced Metrics: 15.2% usage, 122.5 ORating, 90.7 DRating, 18.6 defensive rebound %, 5.5 block %
Now the starting man in the middle, Jon Teske will serve a critical role in Michigan’s success and failures in 2018-19.
Despite some limitations offensively, Teske’s offensive rating last season was second to only Duncan Robinson’s thanks to his efficient finishing and lack of turnovers. His role without the ball was far more important, though.
Teske proved extremely valuable as a screener during Michigan’s 2018 run. His large frame opened up driving and passing lanes that a Michigan big has not provided for teammates in many years. Returning players Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews took full advantage of that screening, developing some very real chemistry with Teske as the season progressed. Because Michigan has an apparent lack of shooting entering this year, Teske’s screens could serve as a focal point for the offense to create easier looks in the pick-and-roll when shots aren’t falling.
Adding to the intrigue is the development of an outside shot for the Ohio native. Onlookers saw Teske nail an in-rhythm three in Spain and the big man seems to suggest that he’s added a three-point ball to his game:
“Obviously, every day Coach B is watching you and he keeps track of everything — scrimmages, points, blocks, rebounds. So that's one thing that they do keep track of is makes and misses,” Teske said. “That's one thing that he's seeing me grow and I've been able to show him that I'm capable of shooting the 3.”
Teske’s true value comes, however, on the other end of the court. His huge size and ability to protect the rim adds an aspect to Michigan’s defense that John Beilein has not enjoyed since Mitch McGary. But it goes further that.
We discussed previously that Teske displayed a high basketball IQ. Although he’s not the most mobile big man in the country, his recognition of when to attack screens and when to lay off was exceptional. With an offseason to watch film and grow in his play recognition, Teske’s defense could improve to a dominant level despite his perceived physical limitations.
[After the JUMP: nothing soft]
Measurables: 6’10’’, 245
Base Stats: 50 minutes, 22 rebounds, 6 blocks
Finally with a realistic path to playing time, Austin Davis will need to execute right away if he hopes to be a consistent member in Michigan’s rotation.
The Onstead product acquitted himself well in emergency duty last year, most notably holding his own against Michigan State when Wagner and Teske were both in foul trouble. Davis is still a bit of an unknown, but he has the potential to be a serious rim protector if his limited minutes last season are any indication.
Offensively, Beilein expressed that he’s unlikely to be a guy that’s going to stretch the floor much:
“Jon Teske has shot the ball really well,” Beilein said. “But having a big man that can shoot, you all see what can happen. It made everybody else better last year. Having Jon be able to do that and Colin (Castleton) be able to do that — Austin (Davis) is more of a 15-foot guy — those are big to get those big men who can shoot.”
Those offensive limitations may relegate Davis to matchup-specific playing time. He can provide defensive value, but his lack of perimeter shooting limits the team on the other end of the court. When
Michigan is playing smaller lineups, Davis may stay on the bench in favor of freshmen Brandon Johns and Colin Castleton, who are better served as stretch fives.
Measurables: 6’11’’, 210
Recruiting Profile (Hello post): Four-star, #17 C, #129 overall (247 Composite)
Incoming freshman Colin Castleton looks to do something that very few have been able to pull off: play immediately for John Beilein as a freshman big.
The Florida native is more likely to see limited minutes and he could even redshirt given that he weighs only 210 lbs at nearly 7 foot tall. A season and offseason to develop skills and build muscle mass could prove the best path forward for a recruit outside the top 100.
What he does have going for him is that he provides a different style of play than either Teske or Davis. As he told Brendan Quinn when he committed to Michigan, he’s very much in the mold of a stretch big:
Colin Castleton is 6-11, 215 pounds. I asked him what position he'll play at Michigan ... pic.twitter.com/OgzqrjXdss
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) October 4, 2017
Despite Teske showing evidence of an outside shot, Castleton could be Michigan’s best chance to space the floor from the five position, so it’s conceivable that he could play a similar role to that of Moritz Wagner.
Learning that type of role while playing high-level college basketball is difficult, so there will inevitably be bumps along the road. But the rough patches should not, and will not if history is any indicator, deter the Michigan coaching staff from continuing Castleton on the path to ultimately replace Wagner’s role in Michigan’s offense.