Basketball player

Michigan Basketball Player Profile: Hunter Dickinson is already awesome, so how can he improve?


Michigan Wolverines center Hunter Dickinson is really good at basketball.

I don’t have to write more than 1,000 words to tell you that, because the great All American man burst onto the scene last year as a freshman.

The 2021-22 Michigan men’s basketball team cap is as high as Dickinson wants it to be. If they don’t show much improvement and handle doubles teams well, Michigan will still be a good Big Ten team, but may only win a few games in the NCAA tournament.

On the flip side, if Dickinson continues on his upward trajectory and plays as a Player of the Year contender, it exponentially increases Michigan’s chances as a title contender.

Let’s take a look back at his incredible freshman season and see what he can improve on in his second campaign.

The story so far

It’s crazy to think that just over a year ago Dickinson was coming off the bench and playing a few minutes at a time to give Austin Davis a break.

Dickinson was a regular double-digit goalscorer to start the year, but he started to gain national attention just around the Dec. 13 game against Penn State, when the big man posted 20 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 27 minutes of a four-point victory.

These weren’t just empty stats he was presenting against Penn State. He dictated the pace of the game, scored several times at the post with more than one hit, defended the rim well and did a few clutch buckets.

A key observation when looking back on this game is that every post movement in the clip above is coming from his left hand. He was able to dominate by securing a good position with his height, but a savvy post defender would be able to partially cope with him and force him to use his non-dominant hand when he retrieves the ball.

Dickinson knows he needs to be more versatile and finish with both hands, as he said during the Big Ten Media Days, that was one of the main things he worked on in the offseason, plus to be more agile defensively.

“I really worked on that,” Dickinson said, ending with his right hand. “It’s something that me and Coach Howard are working a lot on, you know, player development, using my right hand more. I trust it more. I’m still not where I want to be in terms of confidence, but I’ve definitely improved … I feel like I’ve done a lot of work over the summer to put myself in a position to being able to move a lot better on the floor and stuff like that … just show that you can keep the pick and roll, especially on the switches.

Among other things, Dickinson said he would also like to develop a solution for doubles teams and expand his depth range, with the latter being a point of focus by NBA teams on how he can improve his stock. draft.

As The Athletic’s Brendan Quinn preached for a while as well as Dickinson was last season, the majority of his baskets last season came on left-handed moves on his right shoulder, cuts and slips up. the rim, easy returns and free throws.

Dickinson won’t have the luxury he enjoyed in the first half of last season of being a stranger and not focusing primarily on opposing game plans. Now, every team that takes on Michigan will likely see the big man as their main focus, with doubles teams and aggressive game plans ahead.

I don’t want to sound too critical of Dickinson; I loved watching him last year, and he’s one of the main reasons Michigan leads the national previews showcasing why fans should be excited about the season. He has the potential to be the best big man in college basketball, and I want to see him make it happen.

He was able to rack up buckets due to his offensive sense and size, but if he can improve his offensive versatility and become less predictable offensively, he will fit into the conversation for National Player of the Year.

Outlook 2021-2022

Last season, Dickinson was Michigan’s leading scorer, averaging 14.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. He also made 59.8% of his shots and 73.9% of his free throws.

It’s safe to assume that if this offseason work pays off, all of the above numbers should see a slight increase, with the possible exception of the field goal percentage, given that he will likely take more shots in. general and exterior painting.

While Dickinson will likely spend a lot of time as the only true Michigan post alongside Brandon Johns Jr., I’m excited to see what he looks like playing with Moussa Diabate. Diabate will likely play on 5 when Dickinson is off the floor, but I want to see the Wolverines experience in non-conference play what offense looks like with the two together.

We know Dickinson and Terrance Williams have had great chemistry since their AAU days, but Diabate is a better athlete who can reliably knock down midrange and high post shots. He’s also faster than Dickinson and can provide a great assist presence while Dickinson uses his size to slow down big opponents like EJ Liddell or Trevion Williams.

I also want to see the Wolverines use Dickinson more in the pick-and-roll, as well as in the off-ball action when Dickinson recovers the ball from the post. Could Dickinson get a few buckets picked up and popped while guys like Caleb Houstan tackle the rim? How fast can he develop chemistry with DeVante ‘Jones? Can he get out of double teams quickly and find shooters like Eli Brooks or Kobe Bufkin?

Dickinson was named All-American by consensus because of his dominance last season, but if he can show more endurance, offensive versatility and faster feet on defense, he may become the next Tyler Hansbrough in the college basketball (without the boring face and less than squeaky-clean reputation).


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