Michigan improved considerably in most major offensive efficiency metrics during the third week of the season and now ranks at or near the top of the Big Ten in KenPom’s key shooting categories—scoring 111 points in a 43-point victory over Houston Baptist will end to have that effect. Currently ranked No. 24 in KenPom’s College Basketball rankings (as of Nov. 25), the Wolverines face a tough-stretch over the next two weeks that will challenge these positive trends, including three potential matchups against AP top-10 teams.
One trend that should remain constant regardless of opponent, however, is U-M’s reliance on its experienced upperclassmen. Senior guard Zavier Simpson, senior center Jon Teske, junior forward Isaiah Liver and junior guard Eli Brooks have accounted for 67.3 percent of the Wolverines’ points and 61.3 percent of minutes played this season.
Here is a closer look at notable trends and advanced stats through three weeks of the season using the KenPom statistical model. If you are unfamiliar with KenPom and its metrics, you can read a quick primer here.
*To qualify for individual conference rankings, players must log between 40 percent and 60 percent of possible minutes played, depending on the metric.
•Michigan’s 60.0 Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) ranks atop the Big Ten and sixth in the nation, and the Wolverines boast the country’s fifth-highest 2-Point Percentage (2P%) at 61.1, also good for best in the conference. From beyond the arc, the squad is shooting 39.0 percent, which is the second-highest 3-Point Percentage (3P%) in the league.
•Individually, four Wolverines are positioned in the top-20 in the conference in eFG%; Livers (75.6 eFG%, 2nd Big Ten), Simpson (62.5 eFG%, 7th Big Ten), sophomore guard David DeJulius (56.8 eFG%, 16th Big Ten) and Teske (55.4 eFG%, 18th Big Ten).
•U-M also boasts four of the best three-point shooters in the league in Livers (55.0 3P%, 4th Big Ten), Brooks (47.4 3P%, 7th Big Ten), DeJulius (41.7 3P%, 12th Big Ten) and Simpson (40.0 3P%, 19th Big Ten).
•Head Coach Juwan Howard’s squad has struggled getting to the foul line, as shown by a 22.9 free-throw rate (FTRate) that ranks 307th nationally. Only 11.8 percent of U-M’s points scored have come from the charity stripe, which puts them 331st in the nation in this metric. Conversely, its defensive FTRate (the amount of free throws allowed against opponents field goal attempts) of 17.3 is the 11th best in the country and tops in the Big Ten.
•Although several players seldom used so far this season saw action in Michigan’s 43-point win over HBU, Howard continues to rely heavily on starters Simpson, Brooks, Livers and Teske. Even with DeJulius logging 61.9 Percentage of Minutes Played (%Min) as the sixth man, the Wolverines have only allotted 22.9%Min to bench players, which ranks 316th in the country.
•As the season progresses, Simpson has become the primary focal point of the offense from a statistical perspective. He leads the Wolverines, and is 8th in the Big Ten, with a Percentage of Possessions Used (Poss%) grade of 26.1. The senior floor general has responded with increased efficiency, and currently leads the conference and ranks 10th in the nation with a 44.3 Assist Rate (ARate). His 117.9 Offensive Rating (ORtg) places him third in the league among players with %Poss of 24.0 or higher.
Point Guard: Senior Zavier Simpson
Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 14.0 points, 9.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds,
Simpson is currently seventh in the Big Ten in eFG% (62.5) and 19th in 3P% (40.0). Last season, he finished 38th in the conference with a 48.8 eFG% and 44th with a 30.8 3P%.
While he has cut down his turnovers from a total of 10 in Michigan’s first two games to a combined five in the last two, his 24.3 TORate still puts him 81st out of 87 qualified conference players. Last season, he averaged just two turnovers per game.
Shooting Guard: Junior Eli Brooks
Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 12.5 points, 2.7 assists, 3.8 rebounds
After a 27-point outburst to open the season, Brooks is averaging just 8.7 points over the last three games. He continues to shoot the ball effectively with an above average ORtg (111.8) and eFG% (54.9), and his 47.4 3P% is the seventh best in the Big Ten.
Small Forward: Sophomore Adrien Nunez
Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 5.3 points, 0.3 assists, 0.0 rebounds
Nunez has seen just 38.8% of available minutes this season, the second-lowest among U-M players that have registered a %Min of at least 10.0. Depended upon for his shooting touch, the sophomore has the lowest ORtg (93.6) and eFG% (45.6) on the squad, and second-worst 3P% (25.0)
Power Forward: Junior Isaiah Livers
Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 17.3 points, 1.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds
Livers continues to pace the Wolverines from an offensive efficiency standpoint, leading the team in ORtg (128.7, 14th Big Ten), eFG% (75.6, 2nd Big Ten), 2P% (69.6, 6th Big Ten) and 3P% (55.0, 4th Big Ten).
Center: Senior Jon Teske
Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 13.3 points, 1.5 assists, 9.8 rebounds
With a 12-board performance against Houston Baptist, Teske now sits sixth in the Big Ten with a 25.8 DR% and 11th with a 12.3 OR%. The senior big man has also done a tremendous job remaining available for the Wolverines, committing just 1.43 fouls per 40 minutes this year—good for seventh-best in the conference.
Off the Bench (Played in at least 10 percent of teams total minutes)
Sophomore Guard David DeJulius
Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 7.3 points, 1.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds
DeJulius continues to see a bulk of U-M’s bench minutes, logging a 61.9%Min. His 19.8 DR% is the second-highest among Big Ten guards and the second-best on the Wolverines. The Detroit native has hit 5 of 12 three-point attempts this year, and his 41.7 3P% ranks 14th in the conference. Last season, he was just 1-of-15 from beyond the arc (0.7 3P%).
Sophomore Forward Brandon Johns Jr.:
Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 4.3 points, 0.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds
With eight rebounds against HBU, Johns bumped his DR% up to 16.7 and his OR% to 9.2, both still slightly below average for a big man according to KenPom. His 63.6 2P% ranks fourth on the squad and 23rd in the Big Ten, but he has missed all three of his three-point attempts this season.
Sophomore Center/Forward Colin Castleton:
Traditional Stat Line (Per Game Averages): 6.5 points, 0.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds
Castleton continues to spend a majority of his time on the bench, with his 28.8%Min actually representing a three percent increase from a week ago. He has been effective in abbreviated opportunities with a 120.7 ORtg, 68.8 eFG%, 11.1 OR% and 22.9 DR%. He has not played enough minutes to qualify in KenPom’s individual conference rankings.
KenPom Most Frequent Lineup Combinations (through four games):
1. Simpson, Brooks, Nunez, Livers, Teske — 24.7%
2. Simpson, Brooks, DeJulius, Livers, Teske — 19.8%
3. Simpson, Brooks, DeJulius, Livers, Castleton — 5.8%
4. Brooks, DeJulius, Livers, Johns, Castleton — 4.3%
5. Simpson, DeJulius, Livers, Johns, Teske — 4.2%
KenPom Depth Chart (through three games):
PG: Simpson (77%), Brooks (18%)
SG: Brooks (59%), DeJulius (31%), Nunez (5%)
SF: Nunez (33%), DeJulius (30%), Livers (25%), Bajema (10%)
PF: Livers (53%), Johns (42%)
C: Teske (68%), Castelton (27%)
What stands out to you? Which one of these means the most to you heading into the Battle for Atlantis? Comment below!!!