The maturation of Derrick Walton

An interesting look at what is sure to be an X-Factor for Michigan, especially going forward in the tournament.

Here are Walton’s stats in three games this year versus Arizona and Wisconsin, Michigan’s would-be opponents in the National Semifinal:

78 minutes played
3 points (1-12 fg, 0-3 3pt, 1-3 fts)
5 rebounds
3 assists and 3 turnovers

That is an eFG% of 8.3 and a 1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Here are Walton’s stats in the three tournament games so far this year against Wofford, Texas and Tennessee:

90 minutes played
23 points (7-12 fg, 6-8 3pt, 3-3 fts)
10 rebounds
11 assists, 2 steals, and 5 turnovers

That’s an eFG% of 83.3!!! and an A/T ratio of 2.2. Note that he’s still playing similar minutes and taking up similar amounts of usage but he has been more than ten times more efficient and effective of a player! Small sample sizes be damned, that’s the mark of a transformed player.

Last year Michigan’s deep tournament run was sparked by Mitch McGary, Spike Albrecht, and Caris LeVert… three freshman who had very limited regular season roles but came off the bench (or even start) to have an incredible impact when it mattered the most. When you look at the eleven three pointers made between Walton and Zak Irvin on the tournament run thus far you can’t help but marvel at the job Beilein has done putting his players in position to succeed at just the right time.

Not only does this set Michigan up to be in great hands next year with inevitable departures, but in coin-flip tournament games that Michigan will be in the rest of the way having guys operate at peak efficiency, especially freshman, is the ultimate difference maker.