Michigan Wolverines in the NBA & NBA Playoffs

Kevin C. Cox

How well has the Michigan program fared as of late in getting pro prospects into the NBA? Under John Beilein, the results are mixed.

In the year 2007, John Beilein accepted the men's basketball head coach job at The University of Michigan. And since April 3, 2007 the Wolverines have enjoyed a bevy of success under the native of Burt, N.Y. Since 2007 the Wolverines have made the NCAA Tournament five times, including the last four consecutive seasons.

And in those runs, just once did Michigan fail to win a game in the NCAA Tournament. The only outlier to this successful run was a first round upset over D.J. Cooper and the Ohio Bobcats.

Tournament success aside, one of the biggest and most important jobs that a college coach has is preparing players for the next level. For some, it's overseas. For others, it's the NBA Development League. And for the rest, it's The Association itself. And since Beilein took over the program in 2007, the Michigan Wolverines have had mixed results in regards to how their pro prospects have performed in the NBA.

Let's take a look at each year that Beilein has been in Ann Arbor, and take a look at what has been produced.

2008 No Draftees
2009 No Draftees
2010 No Draftees - Manny Harris was signed by Cleveland
2011 Darius Morris (Round 2, Pick 41)
2012 No Draftees
2013 Trey Burke (Round 1, Pick 9); Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Round 1, Pick 24)
2014 Probable: Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas

What we can gather from this quick data are a few simple conclusions. Firstly, when Beilein was handed what then head coach Tommy Amaker, who now coaches at Harvard, gave him there was not much in the way of true, pro talent. Once Amaker's final recruiting class had come and gone, only Manny Harris was able to see the floor for an extended amount of time in the NBA.

But since Beilein has been around, he has assembled teams featuring an assortment of pro talent. Darius Morris was taken in the second round in 2011, and has bounced around the league from being a member of the Los Angeles Lakers to recently becoming a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.

2012 did see yet another hiccup - but it was for good reason, as Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., who were set to go into the NBA Draft after the unsatisfying end of their season, decided to come back for another season and it certainly paid off for the both of them. They were two cogs in the 2013 National Runner Up and for their troubles were both drafted in the 1st Round of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Trey Burke became a lottery pick, going to the Utah Jazz after the Detroit Pistons decided not to use their selection on their fellow Mitten State resident. Burke has played at a high-caliber level as a rookie in Salt Lake City, (12.8 PPG, 5.7 APG, 12.64 PER, .380 FG%) and is expected to finish in the Top 3 in the NBA's Rookie of the Year vote.

Alongside him could be his former teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. The man affectionately known as "THJ" was one of the few bright, young pieces on a fledgling New York Knicks squad during the 2013-14 season. Hardaway Jr. averaged 10.2 points, 0.5 steals and a 3PT field goal percentage of 36.3 percent. Not bad numbers for a player who was on the court for 23.1 minutes per night.

What lies ahead for Beilein could help the program in its pro prospect area, as three players could very well be drafted this upcoming summer.  Guard Nik Stauskas has been projected as a player who could very well land in the lottery much like his running mate did a year ago. Mitch McGary as seen to be a lottery pick last offseason, but back injuries and a recent issue with drugs could impact his standing.

And Glenn Robinson III's upside could give teams a reason to take a chance on him. Right now, DraftExpress.com has Stauskas ranked as the 14th best prospect, McGary 33rd, and Robinson III the 37th.

Of course, Michigan's successes in the NBA Draft do not necessarily jus tie into Tommy Amaker and John Beilein. The best Wolverine currently in the National Basketball Association played long before Amaker and Beilein were roving the sidelines.

Jamal Crawford, currently on the Los Angeles Clippers, has enjoyed a long, 14-year career in the NBA as a member of the Clippers, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, and Portland Trailblazers. He has since transformed himself into one of the best sixth men in the league and has established a high level of credibility for both himself and the Michigan program.

So while those mixed results certainly are there, it's hard to really blame Beilein for the early issues. The program has recently seen a strong burst in the way of pro prospects, and there is no reason why that should not continue for the foreseeable future.

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