For the third season in a row, a transfer will be starting at point guard for the Michigan Wolverines. Princeton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn is taking a similar path to Mike Smith and DeVante’ Jones, and hopes to lead the Wolverines to postseason success.
A two-time All-Ivy league player, Llewellyn was Princeton’s second-leading scorer last season averaging 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 38.6% from three.
Here’s a breakdown of what Michigan fans can expect from him offensively, based on advanced statistics from last season (all stats are courtesy of @CBBAnalytics on Twitter)
He’s not a great rim finisher, but he’s crafty in the paint
As is usually the case with 6-foot-2 guards, Llewellyn isn’t the greatest finisher at the rim. Last season, he shot 55.1% on shots at the rim, a mark that places him in the 23rd percentile in all of college basketball. He’s much better at home, converting on 63.4% of those shots (56th percentile).
He doesn’t have blow-by speed on his drives, but he’s incredibly crafty and shifty off the dribble. He’s incredibly patient with the ball in hands, meticulously breaking down his defender like a quarterback reading a safety.
After dribbling a few times in the paint, Llewellyn can face up against defenders or make them pay with his back to the basket. Go to the 58-second mark in the clip below and watch how he posts up, utilizing excellent footwork and fakes to secure a nice finish under the rim.
Llewellyn is not going to have the speed after the first dribble that Jones did, but his high basketball IQ, patience and footwork makes up for it.
He doesn’t shoot much from midrange, but creates space for himself well
Llewellyn is truly a three-level scorer — a type of player Michigan hasn’t had a lot of recently, with his craftiness in the midrange being one of the best parts of his game.
Last season with the Tigers, Llewellyn shot 38.9% on mid-range twos (67th percentile) and was incredibly efficient with those shots at home, knocking down 54.5% of midrange shots at Jadwin Gymnasium (98th percentile).
The mid-range shot seems to be a third option for him, as he only took about a dozen of those last year. But in the shots he did take, you can see his start-and-stop ability on display. When he gets the defender on his hip (19-second mark of clip below), he does a great job stopping on a dime and creating space for himself.
When watching clips of him, it’s evident he does a great creating shots for himself, which is something both Smith and Jones struggled with at times.
Llewellyn is money from the left corner and the right wing
Michigan is going to need his three-point shooting; last year’s squad was ranked 172nd in three-point field goal percentage among DI NCAA teams. And Llewellyn can certainly knock it down, ranking seventh in the Ivy League in three-point percentage last year.
Looking at his shot chart, his two favorite spots from deep are the left corner and the right wing. That left corner spot is one of his most efficient shot zones, as he made 13 of his 27 attempts (48.1%) last season.
Llewellyn also took a lot of threes from the top of the key (14-of-37, 37.8%) and from the right wing (18-of-36, 50%). While he gets a lot of shots in these zones off of screens, he also isn’t too reliant on them to create space for himself.
Knowing he thrives on the right side of the floor, I’d love to see Michigan start sets with him on the left side before utilizing on-ball or off-ball screens to free him up while cutting to his preferred side of the floor.
He’s got great court vision and stays patient in the pick-and-roll
Princeton ran a lot of sets where Llewellyn starts on the right wing and ultimately becomes the ball-handler in a pick-and-roll. This is where he did a great job staying patient and making the right read, whether that means finding the roll man, pulling up from midrange or taking it all the way to the rack.
As Ant Wright mentioned in a recent breakdown, Princeton often put point guard and shooting guard responsibilities on Llewellyn. He was encouraged to be aggressive with that dual responsibility and did a solid job finding shooters and hitting the roll man exactly where he waned it.
Llewellyn is about to run a lot of pick-and-rolls with Hunter Dickinson, a 7-foot All-American who should easily be the best pick-and-roll partner the guard has ever had.
If the duo can develop a nice chemistry, a Llewellyn-Dickinson pick-and-roll should be a main offensive set for the Wolverines. This would see Dickinson roll into a post-up and Llewellyn cash wing threes off the dribble. It could also see a spot-up shooter like Joey Baker being ready as a third-option on the wing.
Much like Princeton did, Michigan needs to surround Llewellyn with quality shooters for them to thrive offensively. I’d imagine he’d always share the floor with sharp shooters like Jett Howard and Baker, or good change-of-pace creators like Kobe Bufkin and true freshman forward Youssef Khayat.
Llewellyn should be a main offensive option for the Wolverines in 2022-23. He can be an offensive catalyst who scores from all three levels and gets other guys going with good passes, both in the flow of the half court offense and in transition. The point guard spot is in good hands with him this year.