Michigan State Basketball: Projected Stats for Branden Dawson in 2014-15 Season
Like most players, Branden Dawson will have his good games and his bad games in 2014.
However, making the most of the exemplary outings and minimizing the frequency of subpar offerings is what separates top-tier basketball players from mid-tier athletes.
Where he lands is up to Dawson, and only Dawson, a senior who made the wise choice of returning for his final year of eligibility at Michigan State instead of jumping into the NBA draft.
As a senior, he’ll be expected to reach his peak. Typically, that’s been the trademark of Tom Izzo’s Spartans: Fourth-year players carry the load and finish on high notes. Only a quick glimpse to the past is needed in order to prove that. Take a look at what Draymond Green and Adreian Payne did as seniors, and then ask yourself if they took full advantage of their elder statesmanship.
The answer is yes. And you didn’t even have to ask the question to get that answer.
On the surface, he’s easily a 15-and-10 producer. But there is certainly a strong case stating the 6’6”, 220-pound winger could do much more. With all of that being said, let’s move on to delving a little deeper into Dawson’s potential by projecting a few statistics.
DPG: Dawson's Per Game
Scoring is relative to environment, attitude and momentum. If the Spartans are up big and Dawson's flying through the air like a mad man, then it's safe to assume old BD may end up with a few buckets.
For example, remember back to the NCAA and conference postseasons: Dawson played some of the best basketball of his career. And honestly, it was some of the best March ball we've seen from one of Izzo's men in a few years.
He put up 20-plus a couple of times during the Big Dance, and he gouged Michigan for 15 points and six boards during the B1G title bout; Dawson was truly dominant.
Throw in a few blocks and windmills that make rims quiver, and you have a prototypical beacon of energy ready to lead Michigan State. Dawson can be that, despite his average of just 11.2 points per game in 2013-14. Of course, had he not missed nine games due to a broken hand, it's safe to say he could have tilted stats more in his direction.
Just to be safe, let's say Dawson averages 15.5 points per game this season. But don't be surprised to see his average near the 18-point range. In all likelihood, now that Gary Harris is gone, the Spartans are going to rely upon Dawson to be the headliner.
And those 20-point outbursts could become more frequent. Izzo's probably hoping so.
On the Block
Believe it or not, Dawson matched Payne's average of 0.9 blocks per game. Payne, of course, has graduated and is moving on to the NBA. Izzo still needs that other block, though.
Enter Dawson, who had two or more swats in six games as a junior. Don't expect Dikembe Mutombo-like finger wags, but Dawson can get up and disrupt. He's going to block some shots—probably somewhere near the range of 1.5 per.
Typically, scorers aren't really passers. That's why they're scorers. They rely on other people to get the ball to them so they can put it through the net.
Dawson, though, does have the knack for threading a nice assist every now and then. He's best off the improv—such as backhanding a wayward rebound back into play—but he can set up in an offense and methodically distribute the ball too.
This past season, he averaged a career-high 1.6 assists per game. However, he had four during a tourney win over Delaware and five during an early dumping of McNeese State. With Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine doing the work, Dawson probably won't have to worry much about playing the role of place-setter.
That being said, seeing about two assists per outing seems about right. He averaged 1.3 as a sophomore and jumped to 1.6 as a junior—why not the full two as a senior?! Then again, his assist count could actually decrease due to the anticipated need for his scoring. So keep that in mind.
Board It Up
This section needs little explanation for those who follow Spartans hoops. But for those who are new, here's a refresher: Izzo's been known for producing great rebounders. Or maybe it's that great rebounders become greater rebounders once they've spent some time in East Lansing.
Either way, Dawson is a natural on the glass. His power and grace make him one of the most entertaining to watch. Rebounding, to some, is a lost art, and the Dennis Rodmans of the world are few and far between. Dawson's no Rodman, but he definitely has enough energy—when he chooses to, kind of like Rodman—to physically outdo just about any opponent.
Dawson gets fantastic leverage and knows when to leave his feet. That's a key to cleaning up the glass. Plus, he's big enough to own a position in the paint, which is also another staple of effective rebounding.
In all likelihood, he'll easily eclipse his junior-year average of 8.3. There were games in which he made getting 10 look easy and getting 20 quite possible, despite never finishing with more than 13, per ESPN.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan State Spartans basketball writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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