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Michigan State 2016-2017 Preview: the Wings

Can the freshman deliver?

Middle Tennessee v Michigan State Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In the weeks leading up to the 2016-’17 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing its preview series breaking down each Big Ten team. These will come in a set of series previewing the overall team, the team’s backcourt, wings, and big men, and the team’s schedule. Each post will take a look at its top in-depth and give predictions on the upcoming season.

Today’s edition of the ‘BTPowerhouse Preview Series’ will focus on the wings for Michigan State. Or rather, The Wing.

'BTPowerhouse Preview' - Michigan State Backcourt:

  • 2015-’16 All-Big Ten Qualifiers: none
  • Key Departures: Javon Bess, Marvin Clark
  • Additions: Miles Bridges
  • Top Player: Miles Bridges

Michigan State doesn’t often play anyone big minutes at the wing position, by which I mean a defender capable of handling guards and forwards with an explosive offensive skill set to get to the bucket and step out to hit a shot. Draymond Green has more or less perfected this position at the next level, though he played up front often for Izzo. Both Jason Richardson and Shannon Brown filled these roles when they were in East Lansing, but neither has been on campus for quite some time.

Last year, Denzel Valentine did it all at the point, so they didn’t need that athleticism.

It all changes with the arrival of Miles Bridges.

Starting Rotation

This isn’t even a contest. Miles Bridges will play a lot, and early, at small forward. He’s big, physical, fast, high-flying, and possesses crazy play-making abilities. As I noted in my preview on Bridges, his shot-making will be a question mark in a big way. But he should be able to get to the rim and finish impressively in transition.

I’ll be curious to see if he can guard some of the other top players in the league, fast enough to stay with Malcolm Hill, or strong enough to guard Caleb Swanigan or O.G. Anunoby. His ability to do so may affect Izzo’s flexibility with lineups.

Bench Rotation

This is where it hurts. Javon Bess and Marvin Clark decided to transfer at the end of last season. Both had trouble staying on the floor last year but both would have helped Michigan State in the depth department. Clark especially was beginning to open things up, hitting 42% from 3. But now they’re gone, Clark to St. John’s, Bess to St. Louis.

In their wake are Matt Van Dyk and Kenny Goins, two former walk-ons who will see limited action.

Overall

As I mentioned last week, I’d love to see some lineups where Josh Langford slides into the wing and Bridges takes the 4 spot on the court. I think that could make for some really compelling basketball. Besides, with the loss of Bess and Clark, and the injury to Ben Carter, Izzo may have to trend this way. He’ll need to get his best players on the court in pressure situations.