Last season, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson started for Michigan at the wing positions. Stauskas and Caris LeVert rotated between these spots, but Robinson was the clear starter at the power forward position. Both players are gone this year, but Michigan has a few players poised to take over their spot. We take a look at who we think will start for Michigan, and who could be key contributors off the bench.
The (Likely) Starters
Zak Irvin- The only returning contributor in our wing group, Irvin is ready for a breakout year with the departure of Stauskas and Robinson. Their departures will open up not only a ton of minutes, but a ton of shots as well. Irvin proved last season that he could be a great shooter for Michigan. In 37 games last season, Irvin averaged nearly 7 points in 15 minutes per game. While these are decent numbers, he averaged a little over a rebound and less than half an assist per game. With Irvin stepping into a starting role, he will have to take on a bigger role than just shooting three point jumpers and playing defense. In watching tape of Irvin from the offseason, he could end up being the Wolverines' leading scorer based on versatility. Fans know how well he can shoot the ball, but he has added a nice mid-range and was much more aggressive taking the ball to the basket on the trip to Italy. If Irvin can keep this up in the regular season, he could be a vital piece for the Wolverines and help them become one of the elite teams in the country.
Kameron Chatman- Chatman has an old school game that Michigan fans will absolutely fall in love with. Listed somewhere between 6'7 and 6'8, Chatman has the size to be able to guard power forwards, but has the skills to play just about any position on the floor. Coming out of high school, John Beilein mentioned how he loved Chatman's passing and dribbling ability for a player that primarily played power forward. Chatman will be used in a variety of ways for Michigan, but his shooting gives Michigan another weapon to help spread the floor. A knock on Chatman is that he doesn't have the athleticism that Glenn Robinson does, but he is a more skilled player overall. It will be interesting to see how much of a learning curve there is with Chatman despite his talent. He didn't overwhelm on the trip to Italy this summer, but will likely be more of a solid player who can play within himself rather than the type of player who will make flashy plays like Robinson did for the past two seasons. If Michigan can get solid production out of Chatman, he could develop into an excellent four-year player for John Beilein.
Aubrey Dawkins- Dawkins is the son of Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, a 6'6 wing from Palo Alto who was another late-signee for John Beilein. Unlike Chatman, Dawkins can absolutely jump out of the gym, and already has a few monster dunks in practice. Dawkins was signed as more of a long-term project based on how raw he is right now, but John Beilein thinks that Dawkins could be a contributor this year and has praised his work ethic and ability to learn throughout the offseason. Dawkins will be a similar type of player to Glenn Robinson, used as either a small forward or power forward depending on the lineup that Beilein chooses to use. I have Chatman penciled in as the starter for right now, but I wouldn't be totally surprised if Dawkins is able to leapfrog Chatman and earn the starting role. Dawkins will begin his career as mainly a three-pointer shooter and highflying specialist, but he has the tools to become a complete player and blossom like LeVert. I expect Dawkins to have a great year for Michigan, playing between 10 and 15 minutes a game at either forward spot like Irvin did last season.
DJ Wilson- Of the four players on this list, Wilson might actually have the highest ceiling. A rangy forward who stands at 6'9, Wilson broke his finger in the offseason and was unable to play at all in Italy. Wilson can do a little bit of everything, including his ability to run the floor and finish in transition. I have him pegged at fourth on the depth chart right now because he was unable to catch up compared to the three players listed above, but Wilson could be a special player for Michigan. Last season, Wolverine fans suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Kentucky in the Elite Eight, mainly due to Kentucky's enormous frontline that Michigan was unable to contain. Wilson's athletic ability, size and defensive prowess would have made him a perfect fit to go against players like Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee. It is unclear how quickly he will learn Michigan's system, but if he is able to adapt, he could be given 5 or 10 minutes against some lesser competition to start the season, and eventually work his way into the lineup. If he's ready, Michigan's December 13th tilt against Arizona's NBA frontline could a great test for Wilson to prove he's worthy for minutes on this Michigan team. If not, Wilson could be a steal for Beilein and co. down the line.