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Michigan basketball needs to address these two major issues to compete next season

Juwan Howard could really use a turnaround.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 2022-23 season had a lot of promise for the Michigan Wolverines. Several expected them to make the NCAA Tournament and contend for a Big Ten title. There were definitely question marks surrounding the program, but Juwan Howard and the staff have always figured it out down the stretch.

Unfortunately, their resume just wasn’t enough after losing their final three regular season games and then losing to Rutgers in their first game of the Big Ten Tournament. All year, they could not finish in the most important moments, losing 10 games in overtime or by six points or less. Even a handful of wins could have made the difference.

Entering the offseason, there are a few things that can shape up the roster. The only official news is Jett Howard going to the NBA Draft and Isaiah Barnes entering the transfer portal. We learned in the NIT that Joey Baker would be applying for a sixth season and there is a possibility Jaelin Llewellyn could be granted another year if he would like as well.

No matter what happens, Michigan has a lot of work to do to build this roster and make it a contender for next season. It feels like we are at a breaking point for basketball in Ann Arbor, and it is pivotal the program turns things around soon. To get that done, some players will need to progress.

The clear No. 1 need for the Wolverines heading into next season is shooting. Jett is off to the NBA and he shot almost 100 more three-pointers than any other Michigan player this season, making a respectable 36.8% of them.

The next two names on that list are Kobe Bufkin and Baker, who converted attempts from deep at 35.5% and 39.1%, respectively. In essence, the Wolverines could lose their three most prolific shooters who combined for 443 of their 703 shots from behind the arc.

Baker, Howard and Bufkin also accounted for 45.7% of Michigan’s overall scoring. If Dickinson leaves as well, that number jumps to 72.5%. There’s a chance we see a completely different team next season, and the Wolverines will need guys who can put the ball in the basket.

The most ideal situation would be Bufkin, Baker, Llewellyn and Dickinson returning, but that seems highly unlikely. Instead, the development of Dug McDaniel, and Terrance Williams II returning to form, are going to be two key points.

McDaniel took some time to get his grip on the college game but by the end of the year, he was looking like a legit Big Ten point guard who could command the offense. His offensive game has a chance to be special, and Michigan might need for it to be. The NIT run was fun to watch, and it showed a flash-forward to what he may be next season. He scored 16 against Toledo and had 19 against Vanderbilt.

What’s promising is in his last 16 games, McDaniel was shooting the ball at a 39.2% clip from behind the arc and averaged 10.6 points per game. That’s a massive jump from the 31% conversion rate and 6.9 points a game he had in the first 18 games.

If all the guys above leave, expect McDaniel to be Michigan’s leading scorer next season. Even if some come back, the Wolverines will need him to continue to be effective offensively and use that game-changing speed at a controlled level. If he can get that done, he can be the best point guard Michigan has had in awhile.

Another huge step is what is happening at power forward. Williams II had one of the most disappointing seasons I can remember at Michigan. He had so much promise as a sophomore when he shot 38.5% from deep, defended extremely well and was a valued bench player. Coming into this year, many expected the transition to a starting role to be easy for him.

Unfortunately, his game took a major step back. Williams II hit an abysmal 25% of his three-pointers and towards the end of the year, he was benched in favor of Will Tschetter. Despite playing 10 more minutes per game, William’s average only grew by 1.4 points per contest his sophomore to junior seasons.

If he can take this offseason to shoot the ball like we all know he is capable of, he could be a major part of the team moving forward. But this coaching staff isn’t going to sit around and hope that it happens. They are already recruiting multiple guys at this position, so it will be interesting to see how this all shapes out if they earn a commitment or two.

All in all, Michigan’s offense was ineffective this past season. The Wolverines will need better shooting around Dickinson and Tarris Reed Jr. in the post to have a more effective offense. That can’t come from just one guy; it needs to be from the whole team. If Baker and Bufkin come back, that will be a great start. However, they’ll need both McDaniel and Williams II to continue to develop as scorers and bring in even more shooting from the transfer portal if this team is going to contend next season.