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Projecting Michigan Basketball’s 2020-21 lineup after recent roster changes

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The Wolverines still boast one of next season’s deepest rosters.

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Attrition season continues to hit the Michigan Wolverines hard this offseason, we mostly have an idea of what the roster is going to look like. Unless Isaiah Livers decides to stay in the NBA Draft, of course (*knocks on the biggest piece of wood available).

With that in mind, here is where we project things as of May 6.

Starting Five

Point Guard (One): Eli Brooks (Sr.)/Mike Smith (5th yr.)

This one feels like it will be a legitimate position battle, but it ultimately may not matter who starts because both guys are going to play a ton. Smith is a playmaking guard, but comes in as a grad transfer in a league levels above the one he is coming from having played at Columbua, so his defense might determine his role. On the flip side, Brooks’ defense is his biggest asset and we know that he’s capable of getting hot from the perimeter. The guy who “loses” this job seems likely to be the first man off the bench next season.

Shooting Guard (Two): Franz Wagner (So.)

Wagner might be the player that benefits the most from the recent attrition. The argument can already be made that Wagner is the Wolverines’ best all-around player heading into next season given the way he finished out the year and found his offense while showing great effort on the defensive end of the floor.

Small Forward (Three): Isaiah Livers (Sr.)

Livers is currently weighing an NBA Draft decision for this year, but most projections do not have him being selected. All it takes is one team guarantee to change that, though. His stock would be boosted by a pre-draft process, but with everything going on in the world, it is hard to tell if that can take place.

This might push Livers back to Ann Arbor, a decision he says he already would be at peace with. Livers, when healthy, was one of the most impactful players in the Big Ten last season and Michigan’s best shooter. Returning to Michigan makes him this team’s unquestioned leader and probable team captain.

Power Forward (Four): Brandon Johns Jr. (Jr.)

Johns played some of his best basketball when filling in for Livers while he was out last season. It feels like Johns’ best basketball is still very much ahead of him and he will be a big piece for them next season.

Center (Five): Hunter Dickinson (Fr.)/Austin Davis (Sr.)

Isaiah Todd isn’t coming and Colin Castleton is gone, leaving Dickinson and Davis to battle it out for minutes at the five, along with Brandon Johns. Dickinson now become this class’ most critical piece for next season.

The Bench

Guard Adrien Nunez (Jr.), forward Terrance Williams (Fr.), guard Zeb Jackson (Fr.), forward Jace Howard (Fr.)

Dickinson and Davis are wild cards here because there could very well be scenarios in play that see either of them starting, depending on what Howard wants his rotation to look like and how truly ready to play Dickinson is.

With other players with the ability to play guard passing on Michigan, it creates opportunities for Nunez and Jackson to play significant roles next season off the bench. Assuming they want to go about 8 to 9 deep again, Williams, Nunez and Jackson all figure to be vying for minutes next season.

Overview

What looked like it could be potentially one of the most loaded rosters in college basketball next season took a big hit with the losses of Josh Christopher and Isaiah Todd on the recruiting trail, but that mostly affected the potential star power. What might hurt more is the losses of David DeJulius, Colin Castleton and Cole Bajema. Each guy was set to be a key depth piece — at the very least — next season, but decided to move on an go elsewhere. The Wolverines now find themselves with 11 scholarship players on the roster, five of which are newcomers. A lot is going to be different here, though the team’s ceiling might be dependent on just how much Wagner develops and how the pieces around him step up, including a potential return for Livers.