Michigan Basketball: Each Projected Starter's Most Concerning Flaw
After coming off an Elite Eight appearance last year, and a run to the championship the previous year, the Michigan basketball program is riding a tidal wave of momentum. But for them to keep up this type of sustained success they will need their starters to overcome some concerning flaws.
The Wolverines return two key starters (Derrick Walton Jr. and Caris LeVert) and will call upon some solid returnees and talented newcomers to keep things moving. However, each starter does have some questions to answer if Michigan can expect to keep contending in the Big Ten and making deep runs in the NCAA tournament.
What follows in this slideshow is Michigan's projected starting five and each player's most concerning flaw for the following season.
PG: Derrick Walton Jr.
Concern: Will Walton Jr. be able to up his assist totals ?
Derrick Walton Jr. had a fine freshman campaign, averaging 7.9 points, 2.9 assists and 3.0 rebounds, which earned him a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
With Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary to defer to, Walton Jr. played mostly second fiddle, while letting the main playmakers lead the way last year. However, this year Walton Jr. will have to be more of a facilitator and get his teammates more involved while taking on a active role on offense.
If Walton Jr. can add a couple of more assists to his stat line, then Michigan will be in prime position to contend as Big 10 champs once again.
G: Caris LeVert
Concern: Can LeVert assume a leadership role?
While guys like Stauskas and Robinson III , etc., took on most of the scoring load last year, with them now taking their talents to the NBA, this will undoubtedly be Caris LeVert's team.
He will, of course, be the primary scorer for the Wolverines, but the main concern is whether he can be a leader and rally the team behind his talents. Look for his numbers (especially scoring) to jump significantly, and if he can be more vocal or lead by example, the sky will be the limit for both LeVert and the team.
LeVert should be primed to follow guys like Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Stauskas, etc. and be Michigan's next star to head to the NBA.
G: Zak Irvin
Concern: Can Irvin take on the added pressure of being Michigan's secondary scorer?
Just like LeVert has to take on more of a leadership role with Stauskas, Robinson III and McGary all gone, Zak Irvin has to go from sixth-man specialist to being the Robin to LeVert's Batman.
It certainly seems Irvin will be up to the task. He had a fine freshman season, averaging 6.7 points and 1.3 rebounds while shooting 43.4 percent from the field. He showed flashes of brilliance along the way as well.
Irvin is a gifted shooter (connecting on 62 of his 146 three-point attempts last season) with the ability to get into the lane at will. It's only a matter of time before Irvin takes his game to the next level.
F-C: Mark Donnal
Concerns: Can Donnal rebound the ball effectively?
There is a decent chance that incoming freshman DJ Wilson could crack the lineup ahead of Mark Donnal, but Donnal has the more experience, being that he practiced all last year with the team as a redshirt freshman.
Besides, Donnal, at 6'9”, 230 pounds, is a little bigger and prepared to bang with the bodies in the Big Ten. With McGary gone, not to mention Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford as well, rebounding will be major concern for the Wolverines.
Donnal will not be asked to score all that much, although he's capable of doing so, but if he can rebound, play defense and lay his body on the line in the paint, he'll be on his way to a successful freshman season.
F: Kameron Chatman
Concern: Will Chatman be overwhelmed in his freshman season?
There is a lot to like about Michigan's prized 2014 recruit Kameron Chatman, who was a Scout.com 5-star recruit.
Chatman, a 6'6” wing forward, brings a lot of skills to the table. He can score in a variety of ways and is a plus rebounder for his size. He just knows what he is doing on the basketball floor.
The question is, though, how will Chatman adjust to the college game while conceding to upperclassmen in LeVert, Irvin and Walton Jr.? Chatman may have the usual ups and downs of a freshman but toward the end of the year, he should be an integral part of Michigan's success.
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