Isaiah Livers, a heralded recruit and Michigan’s Mr. Basketball in 2017, has put together some impressive performances thus far.
He’s made the case to crack the starting lineup, and it’s time for it to happen.
Here, we are going to break down the reasons that he should take the place of current starter Duncan Robinson in Michigan’s starting lineup.
The freshman brings great athleticism to this Michigan team that Robinson simply can’t. It is extremely easy to see just watching any game. There are many aspects of his game – we’ll get to the rest – that are supported by him being such a great athlete.
Look, transition alley-oop:
Everybody loves transition alley-oops.
The obvious nod would go to sharpshooter Robinson, right?
Duncan Robinson has made 35 of his 94 3-point shots or 37.2 percent.
Isaiah Livers has made 9 of his 24 3-point shots or 37.5 percent.
Percentage-wise, Livers has been better, but he has also taken significantly less shots due to far less minutes. While he is continuing to impress fans with his shooting, including in the last game against Iowa, he isn’t as good of a shooter as Robinson is -?Yet.
One of the ways in which young guys often struggle in college basketball is their inability to rebound against stronger, more physical players than they saw in high school or AAU.
One of my favorite aspects of Livers’ game is how active he is on the boards.
Duncan Robinson averages 2.9 rebounds per game and Livers averages 2.7.
The difference here is that the freshman only plays 13.1 minutes per game, and the senior plays over double that, at 26.8 minutes per game.
It is worth mentioning that Livers is 4th on the team in offensive rebounds per game, and 8th in minutes per game.
This is the facet of the game where there is the biggest discrepancy between Livers and Robinson, and that is mostly due to athleticism.
Michigan has had problems defending the paint this year, as Wagner and Robinson both can struggle against bigger, stronger opponents.
Check out this tweet from @CT_In_TC that shows points per possession vs Kenpom top 100 teams, while not perfect, it can show the impact a player brings to team defense:
Team Success per Possession while on the floor pic.twitter.com/eLBYNaMnwy
— Mouse Double Eyeball (@CT_In_TC) January 3, 2018
Livers has one of the best defensive PPP scores and has?by far the best differential. Robinson has the worst score on the team.
Duncan Robinson is a shooter. The problem comes when he isn’t shooting lights out, because he doesn’t bring much else to the game. Even on a bad shooting night from Livers, he brings effort defense and activity on the boards.
In my eyes, the struggles of Duncan Robinson aligned with Livers’ continued progression, is more than enough reason to give the freshman a chance in the starting lineup.