Let's Start Again: Shooting Guard Comment Count

Brian April 11th, 2018 at 5:01 PM

An irregular series about next year's basketball team. Previously: Point guard.


bench mob no more [JD Scott]


Jordan Poole (So): [cartoonish SUPER VILLAIN] Oh no! An OVERDOSE of SWAG. [/dies]

(108 ORTG on high-ish usage, 52/36 shooting, 82% from line, needs work on defense, breakout candidate)

Adrien Nunez (Fr): Just a shooter?

Ibi Watson (Jr): played about 3 MPG, shot 46/32, other numbers useless due to sample size.

Mystery Man (???): He's either pirated from other spots on the roster or a mid-major who thought they really had something.


Didn't Ace already write this post?

Sort of! Kind of! Mostly, yeah.

Questions one through five at this spot are "what happens to Jordan Poole?!," and Ace just posted one of those one-Q mailbags about Poole and his recent Michigan comparables:

I've used Bart Torvik's invaluable site to pull the statistics of Poole and his comparables against top-50 (venue-adjusted) competition. When you ignore minutes and usage for a moment—two factors with clear explanations I'll get to momentarily—there's a clear match for Poole: Stauskas.


Trey Burke, mostly thrown in as an extra data point, had far different usage as a pure point guard. The rest are wings and therefore more comparable. The numbers that give me optimism regarding Poole are his two-pointers—taken with relative frequency, finished with efficiency—and his combination of high usage, extant assist rate, and low turnover rate.

Stylistically, Poole is absolutely more Stauskas than any other Beilein-era SG/SF. Both are archetypically Not Just A Shooter. The freshman versions of both attacked closeouts relatively well, hit free throws, sniped from the outside, rarely turned it over, and had a healthy-for-a-freshman-NJAS assist rate. Their FT rates are nearly identical; their 3PA/FGA rates are nearly identical.

There's obviously a big gap in minutes, but roster composition explains all of that. The only vaguely guard-shaped objects on the bench in 2012-13 roster were fellow freshmen Spike Albrecht (short) and Caris Levert (willowy). Poole was on the same roster as the senior version of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Charles Matthews, The Kentucky Transfer.


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

If we overlook minutes, the main differences between the two are efficiency and usage. Stauskas hit 44% of his threes as a freshman versus Poole's 36%. Stauskas was a fourth banana with 17% usage; Poole got more shots up per 40 than anyone on the team not named Moritz Wagner. Stauskas was surrounded by Trey Burke, Naismith Edition, and a junior Tim Hardaway Jr. Poole was surrounded by Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews—good players but nowhere near that level.

This is part problem and part promise. Problem: Poole was a walking heat check as a freshman, which depressed his efficiency and upped his usage. Hopefully he'll play a little bit more within himself once he's on the floor for most of the game. Promise: Michigan needs someone to create shots. They need someone with some lip curl on offense. They need a guy who unbalances defenses. Poole can be that guy.

Ace suggests that a Stauskas leap is optimistic but achievable…

The Stauskas leap remains spectacular. He significantly upped his usage, improved his efficiency while taking on a much greater role as a distributor, and even improved significantly as a three-point shooter despite taking way more of his shots off the bounce.

I still think Poole can do something quite similar. He may not have played the early minutes Stauskas did, but he played a lot of important minutes and took on a bigger role when he saw the floor. Meanwhile, a lot of what he did on the court looked downright Stauskas-esque. Both are known for their unabashed three-point gunning, but what really separates the two is their ability to score from all three levels (rim, midrange, three).

…and yeah, it is. Ace didn't mention the other really encouraging thing about Poole: his age. He won't turn 19 for a couple more months, which makes him more Caris Levert (who turned 19 the August after his freshman year) than Stauskas (who turned 19 a month into his). Levert made an even bigger jump than Stauskas in year two, going from the overwhelmed guy in the table above to a 112 ORTG, 21% usage guy playing 34 MPG.

Poole will blow up. The question is "how much?"

[After THE JUMP: D though? Backups though?]

Okay, but what about [checks notes] uhhh… replacing MAAR as a perimeter defender?


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Hard to remember at this juncture, but a couple years ago MAAR was the wrong kind of blow-by machine. Far too often he watched his guy get an uncontested layup and had to reply on the other end. Fast forward a couple years and he's mentioned in the same breath as Simpson and Matthews in a good coach quote article before the Final Four:

"They've got three really good on-ball defenders," one coach said. "Most teams don't have two, or even one. They have three. [Zavier] Simpson, [Muhammad-Ali] Abdur-Rahkman, [Charles] Matthews can really guard the ball. You don't have a matchup on the perimeter you can attack."

That is a hell of a transformation. And it's one Poole needs to match if Michigan is going to maintain its lofty defensive rankings.

He probably can't and won't and that's okay. He does need to improve a bunch from his regular season performance, which featured Early MAAR-style blow-bys and a bunch of back-cuts. This is already in progress:

Much of what held him back early in the season revolved around his defensive consistency and shot selection, skills that Beilein now considers to be much improved.

“Jordan Poole’s defense, right now — and it was not good in October, November — it is really coming on,” Beilein said Monday night. “He’s a pretty bright kid, and he gets that. And he also understands, ‘I’m going to play defense and I’m going to take care of the ball or I’m not going to play.’ ”

Speaking as someone who underwent a remarkably rapid, snotty transition from vaguely hoping Michigan wouldn't get lit up to being DISGUSTED whenever Michigan gave up an open look, I can vouch for this as well. Poole's D was leaps and bounds better during Michigan's late run in both postseason tourneys; he still got lost from time to time but when clear on his assignment he was far less exploitable.

What happens when Poole isn't on the court?

You know on the Great British Baking show when someone's showstopper is floppy and there's a lot of meaningful looks and then that person is regretfully ejected from the show with a lot of hugs and a stiff upper lip? Yeah… I kind of feel like Ibi Watson fumbling a sure dunk out of bounds and then immediately getting backcut in the Final Four was the equivalent of handing Paul Hollywood pastry that failed to laminate. This is a very long and roundabout and above all British way of approaching the idea that Watson's just not going to get there and that Michigan, which is otherwise utterly bereft of shooting guards, is going to have to get creative.

[UPDATE: Because the author is An Idiot he forgot about incoming freshman Adrien Nunez, who may break through to be a 10-15 MPG Just A Shooter in year one, obviating the need for weird matchups. Nunez displays an impressive suite of three point shots off the bounce and in catch and shoot situations; if someone else can create shots when Poole is on the bench he would be an excellent kickout target. That's his reasonable upside in year one, and he might be someone Michigan puts on the shelf, more or less, since he's the lowest-rated guy in this class. If that happens, then the following remains the situation.]

What works will be heavily dependent on matchups. Against teams that have an unthreatening guard who plays 10-15 minutes, dual-point lineups featuring David DeJulius or a breakout version of Eli Brooks appeal. Against teams that either have backcourt depth or a bunch of size, lineups with three of Livers/Brazdeikis/Matthews/Johns intrigue. In these lineups Matthews is the nominal shooting guard since he'll be the primary defender at the 2; the potential challenge is getting non-Poole lineups to score.

This is where Ignas "Iggy" Brazdeikis comes in. Brazdeikis would be a consensus top 50 recruit if Rivals and ESPN followed through on their ratings (five star and 88, respectively) with rankings (at worst 29th and 45th, respectively), and he's ready to go if early returns from the World Hoops Summit---where he weighed in at a very college-ready 223—are any indication:

looked like the World team's best shooter. The Canadian is a strong and skilled offensive player who can stretch defenses and his 6-foot-7, 225-pound frame allows him to be a good post scorer as well. He looks like he should be ready to step right in and play important minutes for the Wolverines.

Brazdeikis is older than Poole—he turned 19 in January—and should hit the ground running.

The other option is finding an open roster slot and spending it on a grad transfer. The only reason this seems at all reasonable is Michigan's pursuit of South Dakota SG Matt Mooney. There are a lot of hurdles to clear there—losing Moe and seeing a playing time transfer and fending off half the P5 teams in the country—so this remains a longshot better addressed in the unlikely event it comes to pass.


If you're comfortable projecting a 12 MPG freshman to stardom this is just fine. It is abundantly clear that this blog is comfortable doing so.

There's a decent shot this transition is actually an upgrade, at least on offense. MAAR's final season featured a 118 ORTG on 19% usage. It's not a stretch to expect a young freshman to add ten ORTG points while maintaining his usage, and Poole's already at 23%. He's already displayed the ability to get to the bucket he'll need to be a three-level threat; it's just a matter of refining, reducing bad decisions, and Camp Sanderson.

The backup situation is slightly dodgy only because there isn't a smooth fit at shooting guard amongst likely contributors, but the worst case scenario here is a slightly awkward time for DeJulius/Brooks/Brazdeikis for 10 minutes a game. That's a good worst case scenario.



April 11th, 2018 at 5:15 PM ^

is projected to play the 3. Nunez would have the best shot of getting PT at SG with his sweet shooting stroke. He's going to come off the bench as a Just a Shooter™.

Either way, whoever picks up the offense the quickest and can play defense will get PT


April 12th, 2018 at 12:24 AM ^

Iggy is closer to a modern 4 than a 2. But in modern basketball the 2 and 3 are mostly interchangeable anyway.  So if he and Matthews are on the court at the same time, I would expect Matthews to guard the quickest non-PG on the opposing team and Iggy to guard the guy closest to Just A Shooter/whomever Duncan would have guarded this year.  So yeah, Matthews would be the nominal 2 in that scenario and Iggy the 3.

I still have some hope for Ibi Watson as the backup here. He had the trust of the coaches early in the season which tells me he's probably playing well and hitting shots in practice.  It's hard to come in and play 1-2 minutes a game and be anything but freaked out about making a mistake and losing the chance to play those 2 minutes. 

I would think he'll be more confident next year and play a bit more loose for 5-10 min game.


April 12th, 2018 at 10:40 AM ^

The 2s and 3s in Beilein's system both frequently handle the ball in pick and rolls. MAAR and Matthews both ran a lot of PnRs this year. Same with TH3 and Stauskas in 2013.  Caris and Stauskas when they played together in 2014.  MAAR and Irvin last year.

This is why it was so easy for Poole to be the backup for both MAAR and Matthews this year as a freshman.  Pretty much the same position.

The 4 often acts as a reversal guy and ends up setting more screens himself (as the sole screener in a pick and roll or as part of a double screen). 4s typically handle the ball quite a bit less than the 2s and 3s (GR3, DJ, Duncan, etc.)

All three positions play on the wing though and there's a lot of overlap, like any modern offense.  They all go to the corner frequently as 3pt and backdoor threats and run perimeter weave action.


April 12th, 2018 at 1:15 PM ^

i'm pretty sure JB has a much much higher level of thinking than 1-5.  Really, 2-4 are just numbers assigned by the media and fans based on height.  But I'll admit I don't think I've ever seen a JB center have a PnR screen set for him.


April 11th, 2018 at 5:19 PM ^

Why no mention of Adrien Nunez? I know he'll be a true freshman, and not as ready to be a major contributor as Iggy, but surely the fact that he'll actually be a shooting guard on the roster is relevant? Or are you projecting him as a three, not a two?


April 11th, 2018 at 5:34 PM ^

Brazdeikis is the most important freshman for next year in my opinion, although less so if the South Dakota guys comes. We need another pure shooter and that's something, a la Stauskas, that can be reasonably expected of a freshman of his recruiting caliber.

I can't see DeJulius having a major impact next year. Castleton might be a nice mix up option, but bet he splits minutes with Davis. Johns, I guess, may be important if Livers does not make an offseason leap. Not going to be a ton of minutes available for Nunez if Poole makes the expected leap.


April 11th, 2018 at 5:47 PM ^

Just for your expectations, Brazdeikas is not a pure shooter at least insofar as Stauskas is the definition. He shot around 30% in EYBL and 33% for his prep team. It should be noted he was taking tough threes, and his catch and shoot numbers improved a lot during his HS season this year so the trend could be up. It was deinitely awesome to see that article call himm the best shooter on that International team.


He's a pure scorer though. Finishes great with both hands with a variety of finishes. Hits 3s, hits midrange and grabs a lot of offensive boards as well.


April 11th, 2018 at 5:45 PM ^

"You know on the Great British Baking Show ...".

2. Ibi had 2-3 bright moments this year. If doesn't Camp Sandersonize himself, I don't see even that many next year.

3. How did this post get written without the Poole full-swag posterizing dunk and camera mug at Penn State?

4. Big time freshman minutes are critical and expected next year.

5. Oops, almost forgot ,,, Nunez?


April 11th, 2018 at 5:50 PM ^

I could see Beilein using a small ball unit for 10-15 minutes a game of Livers, Brazdeikis, Matthews, Poole, Simpson.

He tried Livers at the 5 briefly late in the season this year and it did not go well so it was scrapped. I bet it makes a recurrance next year after an off-season to work on it if he was willing to try it this year.

That group could put up points in bunches running the floor.


April 11th, 2018 at 6:10 PM ^

8 tickets
1. Mo. He gets a ticket until he tells us otherwise
2. Matthews. Same as Mo.
3. Poole. Expected breakout season taken as a given.
4. Z. Would be higher but backups are extant.
5. Livers, I guess.
6. Big Nasty. Teske's minutes will increase even if Mo returns.
7. DeJulius?
8. Iggy?

I haven't watched enough of the incoming frosh to form an opinion.


April 11th, 2018 at 6:16 PM ^

It is refreshing to read a blog written by an individual who could write circles around my kids teachers and still incorporate my kids favorite TV show - The Great British Baking Show. And yes, I’m fucking addicted to that show so much I actually made a Swedish wedding cake. Not well mind you, but at least my marzipan was out of this world!


April 11th, 2018 at 7:48 PM ^

John Beilein develops players.

It takes time for most guys to fully grasp JB's system and cut out mistakes.

These things have been proven time and again.

IMO, Poole and Livers will both make huge jumps next year - they have the talent, and this year's experience will pay huge dividends.

It's not certain if Watson or Brooks will make the jump - but if past years and  players under JB are any indication, it's very possible. I won't be a bit suprised if Davis' improvement is similar to Teske's this year.

It's not easy to be an impact freshmen in Beilein's system - even a future star like Poole needed this year to adjust.

It's likely the incoming guys will make some contributions, but highly unlikely they'll step in and be stars, or even primary contributors.

By tournament time, one or two will probably grow into valuable secondary pieces, and blow up the following year.

It's almost a certainty that one or more guys who are afterthoughts this year become really good next year. That's JB's greatest gift.




April 11th, 2018 at 9:06 PM ^

I think there's a scenario that Brian didn't mention.  Poole was the primary back-up to Mathews at the 3 this season and I think he could play a few minutes at that spot next year too.  I think it is safe to pencil in the following:

  1. Simpson - 30mpg
  2. Poole - 30mpg (unless he spends 5 at the SF position)
  3. Matthews - 30mpg
  4. Livers - 20mpg
  5. Teske - 25mpg

So I think the freshmen plus Brooks are going to have a battle for the following:

  • There are 10-25 minutes available at the PG/SG positions that DeJulius, Brooks, and Nunez can fight for.
  • There are 20-30 minutes available for Iggy/Johns/Livers/Watson to fight over at the SF/PF position.  
  • I don't see Teske playing more than 25mpg next year, which even Mo barely surpassed this year.  That leaves 15mpg for either a traditional center like Davis to take or maybe they play small-ball to get more offense with Livers or Johns playing 5-10mpg.  

I'm still not sure if Castleton will redshirt or not, but even though the main rotation will not get above 9 guys I think there are minutes to be had out there.  


April 12th, 2018 at 9:43 AM ^

Those are fairly standard starter minute distrubutions for Beilein, although I'd personally reverse the minutes for Livers and Teske. If you look at this past season, MAAR and Matthews both were above 30 minutes a game, and Simpson was regularly playing in the mid-30s once he regained the starting position. Wagner was at 28, and Robinson was at 25 as the non-starting fifth starter. There will be some minutes for the incoming guys, but Beilein is unlikely to turn into Leonard Hamilton and start playing 12 guys a night.


April 12th, 2018 at 1:04 PM ^

Actually, under Beilein his established starters (especially guys returning) often play more than 30 minutes unless they're a center.  Typically centers, even the best ones, top out around 25.  Mo last year, despite being our best player, hit about 26.  

To be fair, you're right that I don't think Beilein has ever had this much depth before.  Rarely has he filled all 13 scholarships and this will be his most talented recruiting class at Michigan.  So maybe things will change.  But even Izzo doesn't play more than 10 guys regularly an Beilein historically has limited minutes to freshmen.  So I expect a 9-man rotation with the 10-12 guys getting the <5mpg you saw Watson/Davis get this year.  

Anyone who thinks Teske is playing 30mpg is probably crazy because rarely do centers do that since they get tired faster, they pick up fouls more often, etc.  That's why I see Teske at 25mpg, Davis at 10mpg, and a small-ball option like Livers/Johns/Castleton at 5mpg.  


April 11th, 2018 at 9:18 PM ^

So Brian forgets about Adrian Nunez, and Seth can't spell Nico.  What the hell is this Blog becoming?


But I do LOVE this new feature - I'm glad we're a basketball school now!


April 11th, 2018 at 10:13 PM ^

There is a reason he was getting minutes late in the year. He was earning them in practice. If he doesn't transfer I think he'll get significant minutes last year. Guy is super athletic and has found his 3pt stroke. He need reps and some confidence and he could break out.

Im thinkin bou…

April 11th, 2018 at 11:48 PM ^

I bet we see more 2PG sets. Brooks is the exact type of guy who needs camp sanderson and dejulius is a great offensive player. This team will be deeper, but not as good as this year’s.


April 12th, 2018 at 1:37 AM ^

I fell in love wiht Ibi Watson 3ish years ago when he first comitted and i saw his hair. I think he's going to break out next year. Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but i also thought DJ Wilson was a steaming pile of crap up until he became the best PF in the B1G in a year where the B1G had some pretty good PF's. So like, i dont know man. John Beilein is a wizard, and I''m calling my shot on cult hero Ibi Waston.


April 12th, 2018 at 7:19 AM ^

Next year we get quite a bit lengthier with the addition of Johns and Brazdeikis, I know we ran man to man almost exclusively this year, but is there a good argument we could run more 2-3 zone at times similar to what Duke did this year? You could easily see a lineup with Matthews, Johns, Brazdeikis Teske, and DeJulius. The zone may also mask some of the deficiencies of the young guys. On the other hand our man defense was so effective with Yaklich that we should probably continue to build on that.


April 12th, 2018 at 12:14 PM ^

it's a lot easier to tell a guy to "guard people that come into this 10x10 foot area" than it is to teach them how to rotate in a man-to-man defense, how and when to switch, how to stay in front of a guy from the 3pt line to the basket (never really have to do this in a zone), and a million other things that an effectively helping man-to-man defense does.  Anyone who thinks man is easier or simpler does not know how to play or coach a good man defense.

Zone's by nature give up a ton of OREBs.   Syracuse is perenially amongst the worst OREBing teams in the country despite being amongst the tallest and most athletic.  You can try to minimize the problems but there is no way to coach around the structural vulnerabilities of a zone to OREBing.

Zones are much simpler defenses to coach at a baseline effectiveness. That's why JB ran one early in his career so he could focus on coaching a complex offense.  That's why Duke went to one this year when their freshmen couldn't get man concepts.


April 12th, 2018 at 2:16 PM ^

Playing zone at the college level is not as simple as "guard anything that comes in this 10x10 area". It can have just as complicated assignments or it becomes pretty easy to pick apart. Regardless, especially with freshman, you have the rebounding issue.


April 12th, 2018 at 12:16 PM ^

We will 100% absolutely primarily run a man defense with Yaklich around, especially with Z and Matthews being excellent perimeter defenders and Livers being highly versatile.

With those players we were the third (!!) best defense in the country.  With Teske getting more minutes, we'll almost certainly be even better this year.  No chance we change what we're doing on that end of the floor.

The young guys will get the playing time they earn (just like Poole and Livers did this year) and our entire starting lineup, at least to start the year, will be returning players.

GoBlue C4

April 12th, 2018 at 8:45 AM ^

My early guess-

1- Simpson / DD - 30 / 10

2- Poole / Matthews - 32 / 8

3- Matthews / Iggy - 22 / 18

4- Livers / Johns - 28 / 12

5- Wagner / Teske - 30 / 10

Total minutes
1. Matthews 32
2. Poole. 32
3. Wagner. 30
4. Simpson. 30
5. Livers 28
6. Iggy. 18
7. Johns. 12
8. Teske. 10
9. DD. 10

Iggy is the best incoming freshman, the highest rated, the oldest, and the most college ready. He would be a great 6th man.

The line up will obviously look much different wo Wagner around. Teske and Davis will get a lot more minutes and Michigan will have to do something to get some shooting on the court, maybe Nunez or Watson at the 2 instead of Matthews.


April 12th, 2018 at 10:21 AM ^

changes considerably without Moe in the program. Because it means that at the five spot, Teske either becomes a more diversive shooting threat or he becomes more of a traditional post that operated within the Beilein scheme like Morgan did, perhaps with greater scoring influence. But that was based on having more shooting options on the on the perimeter, which depends next year on the growth of all the remaining and likely starters from Poole, Matthews, Simpson and Livers.

At first glance, that starting lineup sets up more as a defensive-minded unit than a potentially high-scoring offensive one, which lives to score off transition and second chance opportunties because of Teske's presence around the basket instead of Wagner.

I have no doubt that Michigan's offense will grow into whatever Beilein designs with his available personnel and that Poole and teammates will find their own levels as their collective game evolves.

It would be really special, though, if Moe would come back for one more year, though I think to a certain extent this does alter the development of the rest of the roster, and assures that Casselton redshirts, even if that's already projected regardless of what Moe shortly decides.


April 12th, 2018 at 11:35 AM ^

Based on the highlight video, I think Castleton would benefit from a RS year. There will be an adjustment for him playing against guys his same size who are equally athletic. The skill set is there, but I think being asked to carry 10-15 minutes a game as a Freshman will be a real test for him. 

If Mo leaves, I expect a heavy rotation of Teske, Davis, and Livers sliding over to the 5. Many will want to see Castelton with the hopes that he will be the next Wagner. What they will forget is what Freshman Wagner looked like compared to Junior Wagner.


April 12th, 2018 at 1:06 PM ^

We have no one coming back next year who can shoot off the dribble besides Poole.


David D. can do so now, better than any of our current guards not named Poole, he'll get his mins for sure.


April 12th, 2018 at 5:31 PM ^

I still want to see what Ibi can do with more playing time. IIRC he hits a lot of 3's in practice and set the program veritcal jump record. Thats two very intriguing qualities. Right now he looks lost a lot on defense and offense but DJ Wilson also looked complete lost on defense and offense every time he played in year 2. Unless Mo stays I hope Ibi stays too. Plus hes a drip boy!