Buy Or Sell: Hunter Dickinson Is Michigan's MVP
Is freshman center Hunter Dickinson the Michigan Wolverines basketball team's MVP so far this season. He has undoubtedly been one of, if not, the club's best player, but other key contributors such as senior forward Isaiah Livers, sophomore guard Franz Wagner and fifth-year senior point guard Mike Smith could make a case as well.
TheWolverine's Austin Fox and Clayton Sayfie debate the topic below in this week's edition of "Buy or Sell."
Austin Fox — Sell
This one is an extremely close call, and could probably go a few ways. Dickinson clearly has the best stats of anyone on the team, leading the Wolverines in scoring (15.1), rebounding (7.2), blocks (1.4) and field goal percentage (68.8).
With that being said, the term 'MVP' can be defined a few different ways. Is it simply the best player on the team, or the player a club can least afford to lose? If this question would have been asked two weeks or so ago, the answer here definitely would have been "buy."
However, Dickinson's recent dip in production (and that's not a knock on him, but instead a testament to the way opponents are doubling him and the way other Wolverines have stepped up their game) has changed the viewpoint on this answer.
The freshman has averaged just 7.6 points over Michigan's last three wins and has not eclipsed 12 points in any of them, and yet the Maize and Blue's margin of victory has nevertheless been 21.3.
In other words, Michigan is still finding ways to blow out opponents without Dickinson producing much from an offensive standpoint, a notion that wasn't necessarily thought to be the case earlier this month.
The return of fifth-year senior forward Austin Davis from injury would also make a potential injury to Dickinson easier to overcome. Davis has proven time and time again he's more than capable of serving as a quality big man in the Big Ten, shooting 66.7 percent from the field and averaging 6.1 points per game, which is astonishing when considering he's only averaging 11.7 minutes per contest.
Livers fits the bill to a tee when discussing the player U-M could least afford to lose, and would be the answer here for the team's MVP. We all saw how much the Wolverines struggled when he was injured last year, and how much his presence on the court means.
Clayton Sayfie — Buy
The fact that this is a tough decision means Michigan is a very good team and a very tough team to beat. It’s not always the same guy leading the team in scoring every night, which makes the Michigan offense an extremely difficult one to guard for the opposition.
With that said, right now it is Hunter Dickinson. The 7-foot-1 freshman has exceeded expectations immensely, becoming one of the best big men in the conference and the country right away.
He leads the team in points (15.1) and rebounds (7.2), while shooting a ridiculous 68.8 percent from the field. The next thing Dickinson does, that you can not say about all good big men, is he opens up opportunities for his teammates.
Gone are the days of a big man getting the ball in the post, putting his head down and chucking up a shot. Dickinson looks to pass, and he’s very good at it. Whether that’s a cross-court skip pass to the wide open guy, or a simple feed back out to the perimeter, he can make it, and he’s improving at it even though he’s made too many turnovers as of late.
That’s where shooters like senior forward Isaiah Livers (44.6 percent from three) and fifth-year senior guard Mike Smith (47.1 percent from long range and 63.6 percent in conference play) come in.
With the defense collapsing on Dickinson, and oftentimes sending double-teams to the post, it gives Livers, Smith, senior guards Eli Brooks and Chaundee Brown, and sophomore wing Franz Wagner more space to work with on the perimeter.
Dickinson hasn’t looked like a freshman on defense, either. His ability to play in the post and defend without fouling (1.4 fouls per game) has kept him on the floor, which has been key, especially with the Wolverines not having much depth at the five spot.
While Livers has a case to be MVP, and so do Brooks and Wagner, Dickinson makes this entire thing go. Livers may be the guy by season’s end, but so far, it’s been the freshman who has opened so many doors for the Wolverines on both ends of the floor.
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