Michigan Basketball: Predictions for Wolverines' Team Awards

Zach DirlamSenior Analyst IIOctober 17, 2013

Michigan Basketball: Predictions for Wolverines' Team Awards

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    Who will some this year's awards go to?
    Who will some this year's awards go to?Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    The Michigan Wolverines basketball team, at the conclusion of every season,  gathers for its annual Awards Celebration at the Crisler Center. There is no better time than the final weeks of the offseason to predict who will be taking home some hardware come April.

    Several returning players claimed awards last season and have a great chance to repeat in 2013-14.

    The only awards omitted from this slideshow are the Loy Vaught Rebounding Award, Travis Conlan Sportsmanship Award and Bodnar Award for Academic Achievement. The first honor is discussed in a slide, while the other two are nearly impossible to predict given the fact one is tied to academics and the other is related to something several Wolverines demonstrate nightly.

Steve Grote Hustle Award

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    Mitch McGary is never afraid to give up his body.
    Mitch McGary is never afraid to give up his body.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    2012-13 Winner: Mitch McGary

    Predicted Winner for 2013-14: Mitch McGary

    Do not be surprised to see Mitch McGary diving on the floor whenever there is a loose basketball this season. Expect the rising sophomore to repeat as the Steve Grote Hustle Award winner in 2013-14 given his high motor.

    This award was established in 1977 in honor of three-time Academic All-American and starting guard Steve Grote. During his tenure with the Wolverines, Grote became the first player to compete in four consecutive NCAA tournaments.

    According to MGoBlue, the honor is bestowed upon the player who "displays the greatest effort on the court, in both practice and games."

Rudy Tomjanovich Most Improved Player Award

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    As long as Caris LeVert produces offensively, he will be a breakout player for the Wolverines this season.
    As long as Caris LeVert produces offensively, he will be a breakout player for the Wolverines this season.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2012-13 Winner: Tim Hardaway, Jr.

    Predicted Winner for 2013-14: Caris LeVert

    The only thing that held Caris LeVert back from being a major contributor as a true freshman was lackluster offense. The 6'6", 185 pounder only shot 31.5 percent from the field and averaged less than three points per game last year.

    This season though, the game should slow down a bit for LeVert, which should result in an improved field goal percentage.

    The lanky Ohioan will be strong once again at the defensive end of the floor. As good as he was in 2012-13, the extra weight he has added to his frame will make him an even better defender. 

    Former Wolverine Tim Hardaway, Jr. even labeled LeVert as the player who will be the team's X-factor in 2013-14.

    "He's going to be an athletic, defensive guy who can grab rebounds, push it on the break and hit that wide-open 3," Hardaway, Jr. said on a podcast with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg. "He's going to be the X-factor for the Wolverines next year."

    So long as LeVert turns into a two-way player, he should be a lock for this award.

Award for Outstanding Free Throw Shooting

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    Nik Stauskas should repeat as Michigan's top free throw shooter.
    Nik Stauskas should repeat as Michigan's top free throw shooter.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    2012-13 Winner: Nik Stauskas

    Predicted Winner for 2013-14: Nik Stauskas

    It is hard to bet against a player who shot 85 percent at the free throw line last season for this Michigan Wolverines award. Nik Stauskas knocked down 74-of-87 freebie attempts and should get a few more looks from the charity stripe in the 2013-14 campaign since he will play a larger role in the offense.

    A player who will challenge Stauskas for this honor, though, is Spike Albrecht. The rising sophomore converted 83 percent of his free throws and has a pure shooting stroke.

    This award was established in 2002. Some past winners include Zack Novak, Daniel Horton and Lester Abram.

Thad Garner Leadership Award

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    Jordan Morgan will be the lone fifth-year senior on this year's team.
    Jordan Morgan will be the lone fifth-year senior on this year's team.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2012-13 Winner: Corey Person

    Predicted Winner for 2013-14: Jordan Morgan

    There is no question who the Michigan Wolverines' leader will be this season. Fifth-year senior Jordan Morgan is one of just two upperclassmen on the team's roster and he will be hungry for redemption.

    The veteran power forward was benched in favor of Mitch McGary during Michigan's deep NCAA tournament run. An ankle injury contributed to Morgan's struggles at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, but he never complained about his decreased role.

    This makes Morgan the perfect leader for a young group of Wolverines. 

    The award was established in 1982 to honor two-time captain Thad Garner.

Gary Grant Award for Most Assists

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    Derrick Walton is likely going to be Michigan's starting point guard this season. Photo courtesy of USA Today.
    Derrick Walton is likely going to be Michigan's starting point guard this season. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

    2012-13 Winner: Trey Burke

    Predicted Winner for 2013-14: Derrick Walton

    Spike Albrecht may be the starting point guard for the Michigan Wolverines early on given his experience, but Derrick Walton will take over before long. 

    Walton is simply more athletic than Albrecht and thrives in transition. Given the fact that this is when Michigan's offense is at its best, giving the 4-star prospect the majority of the minutes at the point only makes sense. Walton's court vision should help the Wolverines in half-court sets as well.

    The Maize and Blue have a pure point guard with a high ceiling, which bodes well for their future. Do not expect Michigan's offense to regress much with Walton at the helm.

Sixth Man Award

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    Zak Irvin's shooting and defense will make him Michigan's top reserve. Photo courtesy of ESPN.
    Zak Irvin's shooting and defense will make him Michigan's top reserve. Photo courtesy of ESPN.

    2012-13 Winner: Mitch McGary

    Predicted Winner for 2013-14: Zak Irvin

    This prediction could wind up being irrelevant by season's end, but that would not be a negative for the Michigan Wolverines. Zak Irvin has already drawn rave reviews for his shooting, which helped him attain a 5-star ranking coming out of high school.

    John Beilein had nothing but great things to say about Irvin's defense as well:

    Defense is a norm for him, Beilein told Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. What we’ve seen so far, he likes to play defense. There’s not a lot of people who look at that end of the floor and say I like to play defense. … That’s not only the scorer and defender he’s been in high school. He relishes both of those roles.

    These abilities could very well be too much to keep out of the starting five. If Nik Stauskas is a defensive liability once again, Irvin could easily take his spot in the lineup.

    However, the Fishers, Ind. native will likely start the year as Michigan's top reserve. Barring a total letdown, Irvin will continue that role unless the staff feels he is outperforming Stauskas.

Waymann Britt Outstanding Defensive Player Award

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    Glenn Robinson III should take a step forward as a defender this season.
    Glenn Robinson III should take a step forward as a defender this season.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2012-13 Winner: Jordan Morgan

    Predicted Winner for 2013-14: Glenn Robinson III

    The easy prediction for this award would be defensive stalwart Jordan Morgan, but Glenn Robinson III's shift to small forward makes him a serious contender. Robinson spent all of last year at the 4, which often presented him with tough matchups against bigger forwards.

    This season, the potential NBA lottery pick will have a chance to guard players with similar skill sets.

    Robinson's leaping ability and quickness is going to make it tough for opponents to score over him. Driving the lane will also be difficult. 

    Look for Robinson to finish with much higher averages in steals (1.0 per game) and blocks (0.3) in 2013-14.

Bill Buntin Most Valuable Player Award

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    Mitch McGary has earned Preseason All-American honors for a reason.
    Mitch McGary has earned Preseason All-American honors for a reason.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    2012-13 Winner: Trey Burke

    Predicted Winner for 2013-14: Mitch McGary

    Assuming Mitch McGary returns to full strength some time during non-conference play, he will unquestionably wind up being the most valuable player for the Michigan Wolverines. There aren't too many big men in the country who can run the floor and step into passing lanes like McGary. Michigan can also run their offense through the USA Today Preseason All-American in the high post, too.

    McGary's monster numbers in the NCAA tournament are indicative of what he could do on a more consistent basis for the Wolverines in 2013-14. 

    The former 4-star recruit will likely lead Michigan in rebounding and should be a nightly double-digit scorer. Last season, McGary averaged 7.5 points per game in a limited role (19.7 minutes), until postseason play. 

    Hopefully, the Brewster Academy alum will not be hindered by a "lower back condition."