The Michigan Wolverines starting lineup from last season took quite a hit earlier this week. Charles Matthews, Ignas Brazdeikis and Jordan Poole all decided to test NBA waters and hire an agent.
A new NCAA rule states players could return to their collegiate team even if they hire an agent. However, Brazdeikis and Matthews each made their intentions clear they will not be returning to Michigan next season, and unless something drastic happens I doubt that will change. Of the three, Poole has the best possibility of coming back.
Let’s assume all three are heading to the NBA. That would mean only two starters are returning — Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske. But who else could fill the starting lineup?
Here are my way too early predictions for the starting lineup:
Point Guard: Zavier Simpson
Simpson’s leadership on and off the court will be invaluable to what will be an extremely young roster. He was arguably the most well-rounded player on the team last season. Simpson will be entering his final season as the point guard under John Beilein.
He had a spectacular season in 2018-19, scoring 8.8 points per game while tallying 6.6 assists and 5.0 rebounds a contest. Defensively, Simpson ranked as one of the best defenders in the country. He finished the regular season third in the country in Defensive Win Shares at 3.2.
Simpson made a huge jump from his sophomore to junior seasons, and I expect the same from him come next year. He is going to be toying the line of averaging a double-double per game next season.
Shooting Guard: David DeJulius
This may be a bit of a hot take with Eli Brooks getting more minutes than DeJulius last season, but I firmly believe DeJulius is a much more talented player than Brooks. He showed a bit of uncertainty and a lack of confidence on the court in the 3.8 minutes per game and the 1-of-15 shooting from behind the arc last season. But with a full season and offseason working with Beilein, I think he could be ready to take a much more significant role.
DeJulius has the capability to become the next great shooter on this team. We saw it with Duncan Robinson and more recently with Jordan Poole, and I expect DeJulius to be that next guy. Although he wasn’t great from deep as a freshman, he averaged 26.3 points as a senior in high school and was arguably the best scorer in the state of Michigan.
He is a natural point guard, but there were a few instances this past season where we saw him play alongside Simpson. I think that could be a foreshadowing of what is to come next season.
Small Forward: Isaiah Livers
Livers played a huge role as the sixth man in his sophomore season after starting his freshman season. With the departure of both Brazdeikis and Matthews, the Wolverines are a little lacking at a true small forward position.
Livers is the closest to that. He played a lot of stretch-four last season, but I believe he will play the three next season.
If the Wolverines need shooting, Livers can provide it. Fans saw him shoot a team-high 42.6 percent from three last season. He was also a consistent defender and rebounder.
Livers is my player to watch next season. I expect a breakout year from him. He averaged 3.4 points as a freshman starter and 7.9 points coming off the bench as a sophomore. I think he has the potential to average 15+ points per game and become the Wolverines No. 1 legitimate scoring option.
Power Forward: Brandon Johns Jr.
Johns Jr. was the second-highest graded recruit from the 2018 class behind Brazdeikis and I fully expect him to fill in his role as a starter. At 6-foot-8, he has great size and showed flashes of excellence as a young freshman.
Johns didn’t show it much last year, but he is capable of stretching the floor and shooting the ball from deep. With another year of development under his belt, I think Johns is capable of being start quality next season.
Center: Jon Teske
Michigan saw moments of excellence from Teske last year. He hit five 3-pointers while scoring 22 points and bringing down 10 rebounds against Nebraska last year. He scored 15+ nine times last season.
However, there were games where he was absent offensively, as he also had 10 performances with five or fewer points scored.
Overall he averaged 9.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 37 games this season. He shot 52.1 percent from the field but only 29.9 percent the three.
Teske was one of the best centers in the Big Ten last season and is going to come back even better. If he can work on his jump shot and become a perimeter threat, he can be the best player on this team.
Do you agree? Who is your starting five for next season? Comment your starting five below!