For as many impressive recruits and future NBA players that Michigan has brought in under John Beilein and Juwan Howard, it is not uncommon for freshman to have a limited impact their first year on campus. This might change as more five stars come to Ann Arbor, but it was not a given that Hunter Dickinson would be a main contributor this season.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year was more than just a contributor, of course. The accolades speak for themselves: Second Team AP All-American, First Team Coaches All-Big Ten, seven Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors, among others. When it comes to rookies, few are going to have a better season than this.
Hunter Dickinson Stats
From the get-go, Dickinson made his presence felt. He posted double digits in each of Michigan’s first 11 games, shooting at an extremely high rate and providing solid defense as well. His stat line looks like that of a veteran center in the Big Ten, not a newcomer who must face some of the nation’s best big men every single game.
Dickinson played his role well and was consistently one of the most important parts of the Wolverine offense. He ended the year with a 59.8 percent eFG rate due to the volume of shots he found right at the rim. His 73.9 percent free throw rate prevented him from being hacked, and his assist numbers do not fully show the amount of benefit he provided from his distribution out of double teams in the paint.
Even though he came in as a top-50 recruit, few expected this type of season from the big freshman. While defenses did start to figure him out a bit down the stretch, he scored at least 11 points in each of the last five games in the postseason. Dickinson simply had one of the best freshman years of the current Michigan era without any glaring weakness.
Run it back
Though he could test the NBA waters, Dickinson would greatly benefit from another year in college and is expected to do so. He is not listed highly on many draft boards, but there are some obvious areas where Howard can help develop him further and send him on his way after the 2021-22 season.
First is expanding his range. Dickinson may never have a great jumper, but today’s NBA center needs to have a little more versatility on the offensive end. Continuing to develop as a passer will help his draft stock as well, and he already showed some good vision with the ball in his hands.
Defensively, Michigan will benefit from sophomore Dickinson as well. His rebound and block numbers should go up after an offseason on campus, and while he held his own against most opponents, he can still improve on this end of the floor by becoming an even bigger force in the paint.
The Wolverines probably do not win the Big Ten Championship without this level of play from Dickinson, but he has not yet even reached his ceiling. Plenty of players make a big jump into their sophomore season, and if he can transform himself into a more modern center then there could very well be another banner up in the rafters after next year.