Michigan Players in the NBA

Do the Kramer shoes really work?

Jimmy can tomahawk.

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Jimmy’s new in town

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I never bought them. I just thought about it. I also remember a Sports Illustrated story about Shaq and how he increased his vertical jump by 7 inches while in college, by doing calf-raises. I tried that for a minute but didn’t notice any major gains.

to be fair, can you imagine how much weight shaq’s calves were raising with each rep lol

Back then, probably only 280. Towards the end of his Lakers run, probably 380.

Of course, I was about a buck-fifty when I was doing them.

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Hell yeah! Those black and red ones from Eastbay?! My buddy got them at 15 or 16…and he definitely had a decent vertical (probably normal puberty/strength gain more than the shoes, but I wanted them for a year or two afterwards!).

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An efficient 26 points tonight for Duncan.

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https://x.com/johnjablonka_/status/1725931240719565093?s=46&t=OMxEAgg62bsLI0mWenDZ7w

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TL;DR, Not Just a Shooter.

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I’m tickled by the attempt to draw a distinction between an 87% 3 points assisted rate and a 95% three pints assisted rate on 39 makes (it’s three baskets)

Duncan is shooting at an elite level again, rather than the mediocre level he did last year, and he’s leveraged that to attack close outs and slip screens better than he used to, is the summary.

The novel thing is truly that he now runs a ball screen or two a game, it wil be truly interesting to see how that trends - with Herro out and Vincent gone they really only have 1 guy on the roster who drives the ball (Butler), so that usage is going elsewhere. Will be interesting to see how much of that workload he retains when Herro comes back (obviously raw numbers will drop with his minutes, but curious about the 16% of his possessions).

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There’s still a part of me that’s mindblown that our sixth man, who needed to score six points for us to win, is now a $90m guy in the NBA.

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2 Weeks later!

Kobe Bufkin was expected to miss 8-10 weeks as of 9 days ago. He obviously still has some time.

Jett Howard played 11 minutes roughly across 2 games of the Magic’s prior 6 in the past 2 weeks. He missed all 6 of his shots, picked up an assist, and turned the ball over twice. At this point, he’s a garbage time choice.

Caleb Houstan is slightly up the pecking order in Orlando’s rotation than Jett, playing in 3 of their 6 games in this timeframe, playing 19 minutes. He went 2 for 3 from 3, his only shot attempts in the timeframe, along with 2 boards, 2 assists, 2 turnovers. Not much to really say here either!

I may need to start reverse chronological order here to create interest, because Moussa Diabate isn’t in the rotation in LA either! He HAS however, played more than anyone else so far - 3 of the team’s 6 games in the span, playing 31.5 minutes. As with last year, his best asset is offensive rebounding - 9 offensive rebounds (14 total) in those 31 minutes is pretty prodigious, and his scoring is essentially handcuffed to his ability to work the offensive glass. Against Dallas on 11/10, in 15 minutes, he generated a whopping 6 offensive boards and scored 11 points in 15 minutes. For a guy who profiled as a defensive asset, he’s oddly “stock” free on his career - he’s totalled 2 steals and 0 blocks thus far this year.

Isaiah Livers is BACK! He played his first game last night, and while it didn’t go well (1/7 in 20 minutes with 4/4 at the line), it’s good to see him on the floor again. Let’s see how it goes - the Pistons are obviously extremely desperate for anyone resembling his basic profile.

Over the past 2 weeks, Franz Wagner is averaging 18.3 ppg, 5.7 boards, 2.8 assists on 44.6%/24.1%/87.5% shooting, continuing his strugges from beyond the arc. Franz is by no means the only World Championship participant off to a brutally slow start (Austin Reaves, hello), and basically the entire deviation in his YoY stat lines at the moment is accuracy - his shot profile by zone is essentially unchanged, but he’s down 7 points beyond the arc and nearly 19 points at the rim (at this point, he’s also nearly 10 points below his rookie year at the rim). I expect improvement here, especially at the rim where he’s always excelled. The overall stasis elsewhere (in terms of rebounding, playmaking, stocks, shot volume) suggests some degree of levelling off…if that continues, he probably profiles as a 2nd/3rd banana depending on how good the team is.

I know some people get mad at me for my Jordan Poole summaries, and this one won’t change that, but he’s playing badly. He has the lowest BPM in the league of any player averaging 15+ minutes (-7.8), and while BPM isn’t authoritative alone, it’s probably not good to be so negative. Unsurprisingly, BPM says he has been very negative defensively, but the discouraging aspect is that he’s been worse (per the stat) offensively. After 3 seasons at or a bit above league average TS% on high usage, he’s now at about 10 points below league average on equivalent usage (he is, obviously, playing with inferior teammates). Two-point shooting is down 4 points from last year, 3 point shooting down 5, and his free-throw rate (sneakily a major strength for him in GS) has been cut in half. His turnover rate has stayed at an (already high) 14%, but his assist rate has dropped from 22.5% of possessions to 16.7% despite shot attempts remaining flat. It’s not shot profile either - he’s just missing shots he made in the past…floater range is down 10 point, 10-16 feet down 9 points, 16 feet to the line is down 11 points. He is doubtlessly in a worse environment, and I won’t claim to have seem much Wizards basketball, but seeing this overall massive erosion in accuracy at multiple levels, the decline in play making on equivalent usage (I had assumed he’d go up!) is pretty gnarly.

Mo Wagner had a good two weeks! 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds in about 21 minutes per game. His 74 points came on 43 shots, continuing his tear of efficiency, especially inside the arc, where he shot 66% from the floor (actually REDUCING his season accuracy!). Most of his game is pretty well-established at this point - he’s a respectable rebounder, can’t protect the rim, and a legitimately gifted scorer inside the arc. The main wrinkle here is a dramatic cut in his 3 point rate (41% of his shots last year, 24% this year) where he was never particularly good, and doubling down on mashing people closer to the rim - 54% of his attempts are inside 3 feet (38% last year) and 22% from floater range (19% last year). He’s always been extremely good at the rim, but he’s at 83% this year (this is unsustainably high, like higher than MVP Giannis high). I can’t imagine he’ll keep up this level of efficiency, but there is obviously lots of room for reversion to the mean while still being “good”.

Caris Levert has embarked on one of the more productive seasons of his career. In the past two weeks, he scored nearly 20 ppg despite picking up a knee injury that cost him the final game in this span. He’s doing this despite moving to a bench roll, where he is essentially the “other guard” in the Mitchell/Garland stagger. He’s still not particularly efficient, but this is a team that struggles for offense outside of two star guards, and in his minutes, Levert is where they turn for secondary offense. This role suits him better - last year, often as a starter next to the two guards, he was asked to stand in the corner and shoot threes - he wasn’t BAD in the role (career high 3pt attempt rate and accuracy) but lots of the other parts of his game began to atrophy. This season, his usage has leapt nearly 7 points, his three point attempt rate has falled, and he’s worked far more in floater range (where he’s shooting rather well), with free throw rate climbing as he’s moved within the arc. He also deserves credit for largely maintaining his assist rate while his turnover rate has dropped to a silly 6.7%. In a nutshell: the efficiency took a bit of a hit after leaving a very carefully defined role, but in my mind, the increase in usage and quantity of production largely outweighs it.

Tim Hardaway continues to just launch threes. Somehow, he’s getting appreciably more shots (And more threes) despite Kyrie being around, and he’s rewarding the team for it, canning 40% season to date on 9 attempts per game in roughly 25 minutes (18 points per game). He scored 18.3 ppg in the past two weeks, and nailed 42.6% of his threes. Shot profile/% assisted/etc. haven’t really moved - he’s just making more shots. He’s a catch and shoot guy, as always, just one of the better ones around right now. Speaking of which…

Duncan Robinson is averaging career highs in points, assists, and shot attempts. This all starts with rediscovering his three point shot (43% on 7+ attempts a game), but the diversity he’s added is admirable. He’s taking 3 times his career his of 2 point attempts, and making 4 times his career high. This starts with building off his three-point threat (somehow I’ve seen 4 Heat games this year) - he’s attacking off the dribble on hard close-outs far better, and making a ton of hay slipping screens and cutting to the rim when the scout over his career has been to expect him to pop to the arc. The real wrinkle here, is that he’s using a similar number of possessions as a ball-handler in the pick and roll as Kyle Lowry (this isn’t quite as impressive as it sounds, as Lowry regularly needs to be checked for a pulse) - nearly 2 possessions a game, up from basically zero prior to this year. Part of this is the injury to Herro - more on this in a second) - the two guys they used in these situations were primarily Butler and Herro, and with no Herro, they need to farm it out. Robinson has started all but 1 of their games since the last update (again, Herro hurt), and in 35 mpg as a starter (6 games) is averaging 20 points and nearly 4 assists per game, shooting 50% from the floor and 49% from three for a nutso 70% true shooting. The heat are 5-1 in the games started by Robinson and 4-4 in the games started by Herro. This isn’t even a case of replacing a poor performer - Herro was scoring 22 ppg on league average true shooting and hitting over 40% of his threes (it should be said, Butler has played much better in this stretch than earlier in the year which is a massive part of the team improvement). Long story short - Duncan is playing legitimately awesome, and I think it’s possible that even though Herro is pretty good, this lineup functions better with Robinson in it than with Herro (this would not be the first or even second time the Heat played better without Herro), and there is a very real chance that Duncan gets the starting job full time.

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I put some action on Caris for 6th Man of the Year before the season started. I have absolutely no idea where he will stand in that race as it goes on, nor where it stands now, but this gives me vibes that if Cleveland is a top 4-5 seed in the conference, he’s got a shot. Thoughts?

Absolutely love this write-up when you post it. You could get away with so much less context and detail but the fact that you take the time to do it is awesome! I’m really happy the Moe found a solid role in the NBA and that Caris and THJ are still cranking away. I’ll always remain amazed at Duncan’s success.

I’m bummed that Poole is struggling so much. I have always had mixed feelings on his game but I thought we’d get to see fun and exciting Jordan this year as he bombed away on a bad team. I’m not sure what the next chapter of his NBA career holds - hopefully he bounces back later this year.

I also remain bummed that Jett, Houstan, and Diabate were in such a hurry to get to the NBA for this to be the result. Obviously none projected as immediate stars, they all are getting good money and the opportunity to be pro players, and they have plenty of time to grow and evolve. But it sure would have been nice to get more than one season out of any of them and have them grow as players while helping Michigan rather than riding the pine in the NBA. They made the right/logical decision and you can’t fault them for it - but as a fan of theirs and Michigan I wish it worked out different.

Curious whether there are any former players hanging around the G-League…I found this helpful link that shows there are 5 guys on rosters and 13 playing internationally:

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I see he’s 6th right now in odds but two of those guys are there from priors not current performance (Reaves, Westbrook, probably Paul too). So, definitely a shot.

Did you see who is tied for best odds now though (it’s Tim!)

Getting stuck in the purgatory where you don’t go down to the G League but also don’t play for the NBA team strikes me as a pretty rough spot to be in from a development standpoint. A team like the Clippers, who are desperately trying to win now is not going to prize Diabate’s development even over such a small incremental gain of “well if Zubac fouls out, we need him to be the third big”. Orlando really ISN’T in that situation, so I understand the choices regarding Howard and Houstan less.

I THINK Atlanta was counting on Bufkin to be able to do something (but he did have a really bad summer league and bad pre-season), and there is definitely a role there if he’s capable of taking it. Currently, here are the guards in Atlanta:

Trae Young (36 mpg)
Dejounte Murray (35 mpg)
Bogdan Bogdanovic (26 mpg)
Wes Matthews (28 total minutes played)
Garrison Matthews (9 total minutes played)
Players such as Saddiq Bey and AJ Griffin have played at the 2. Forget an injury, they’re like a bad head cold away from not having 96 minutes of guard play. Right now they cannot possibly ever play small, or have their 4 best players on the floor together.

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Was just listening to Zach Lowe, said as an aside “Caris Levert is just absolutely nailing it so far”.

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Nice piece about the bros. @PAX even got a shout out in the article

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