Over the past few weeks, Michigan's level of optimism regarding Jaylen Brown skyrocketed despite not having any idea where Brown would start his college basketball career at. Michigan went from amongst a final list of eight schools that slowly turned into four: consistent powerhouses North Carolina and Kentucky, resurgent Michigan and the least known contender, the California Golden Bears. In the end, Brown chose Cal, the most surprising school in one of the most surprising recruiting scenarios ever.
With Brown's move out west, Michigan's roster to seems to be all but complete. Going into next season a few questions surround whether Michigan will be an average team, a good team or a great one. These questions involve the unproven players and whether they can be good enough role players throughout the season.
We first start with Mark Donnal, entering his third year playing basketball at Michigan, with a lot to still be desired. Donnal had an extremely disappointing season after giving away his starting spot to Ricky Doyle, and many Wolverine fans wonder whether Donnal is good enough to even play at Michigan. His shooting was supposed to be his biggest asset, but Donnal was a mediocre shooter and too weak on both the boards and defensive end. Expect Doyle to remain the starter, but Donnal needs to give Michigan something off the bench when Doyle needs a rest or gets into foul trouble.
Beyond the center position Michigan will also look to it's wings as a huge source of point production. Proven players like Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin will be in the starting lineup, with breakout player Aubrey Dawkins likely to join them. However, the bench minutes are readily available and a few players have the ability to take them. The candidate most primed for these minutes is arguably Duncan Robinson, a 6'8 shooter who played one season at Williams College before sitting out. Robinson's size will make him a great threat on the perimeter, where he excels from the three-point line. His defense and quickness will likely be the only area of his game that will keep him off the court, but Robinson's offense could be enough to give him serious minutes at the start.
Another new perennial rotation player for Michigan is Moritz Wagner. Expect the German to become a fan favorite in Ann Arbor as the 6'9 (and growing) Wagner can play on the block, in the post and on the perimeter. Wagner's versatility will be a huge luxury for Beilein and Michigan and Wagner will not be intimidated by hostile environments or large crowds. The final wing player that will be the most intriguing piece for Michigan is Kam Chatman. Chatman was the highest rated player for Michigan coming into last season, but was the most disappointing in a season of disappointments for Michigan. The lefty wing has all the tools to be a perfect Beilein 3 or 4 man, but his shooting slumps and mental lapses throughout the season turned Chatman from a starter to a 10 minute per game guy. If Chatman can bulk up and improve in the offseason, Michigan will be much improved.
Overall, the Wolverines have a few key pieces that go beyond the starting lineup. They have size, shooting and strength, but need to play up to their potential for Michigan to have a banner year. If they can do that, look for Michigan to score in bunches, put together a plethora of highlight plays, and have an awesome year in Ann Arbor.