November 13, 2018

Former Michigan players LeVert, Stauskas, Burke and Hardaway Jr. having breakout NBA seasons

2018/10/23 10:00 am 10:00 am10:00 am0 0 comments

We know it’s really early in the 2018-19 NBA season, but we couldn’t help but notice that a handful of University of Michigan players are having fantastic starts to the season. Yes, it’s just 2-3 games into a very long 82 game-long schedule, but we wanted to call out these Wolverines for stepping up their game in their first few games.

LeVert Turns a Corner in Brooklyn

The player that is the likeliest player to maintain their spectacular start is 6-7 wing man Caris LeVert.

The third-year player is manipulating his way to the hoop to the tune of 24.7 points per game while shooting an amazing 65% from the field. That average is more than double his last season’s per game scoring average of 12.1. If LeVert can keep that up or increase his scoring, that would be one of the biggest scoring increases in NBA history.

On top of that, the Brooklyn Net is also putting up 4.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.0 steal. No doubt the numbers will normalize as the season moves on, but the way he’s playing – we can see him easily maintaining a 20, 4 and 4 averages and would be the first Wolverine to make an all-star team since Chris Webber in 2002-03. The slippery LeVert’s uncanny ability to put the ball in the hoop and frame reminds of us of another former Michigan scoring maven in Jamal Crawford.

Why we believe in LeVert so much is that he’s not just scoring a lot of points, but he’s doing it with insane efficiency. To us, that shows an understanding of the game, and maturity.

Two University of Michigan Knicks Showing Out

The next two Michigan players play for the same NBA team and we think have the potential to continue to raise their profile this season are Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke. Both play for the New York Knicks.

In six seasons in the NBA, Tim Hardaway Jr.’s biggest issue is his consistency. Every game, you can count on Hardaway taking a couple bad shots that miss badly; usually after the 6-7 shooting guard had hit two shots in a row. This year is no different. Hardaway Jr. is still taking some ill-timed shots, evident in his 41.8% shooting percentage. However he’s definitely improving his consistency.

Despite the poor shooting percentage, Hardaway Jr. is averaging an amazing 27 points per game in the Knicks’ first four games. That average places him third in the entire league right above Steph Curry. Like LeVert, we think Hardaway Jr.’s numbers will come back to earth; considering his history, we’re thinking his points per game will make a huge thud. Even so, Go Blue!

After struggling to find the right fit in the NBA, Trey Burke’s last season — his first with the Knicks — allowed him to show off his skill set. Along with his slight frame, 6-1 height, herky-jerky movements, and cornrows reminded many of Allen Iverson-lite.

Burke isn’t putting up Iverson-type numbers, but he’s getting a better opportunity where he isn’t looking over his shoulder. Like Hardaway Jr., this is Burke sixth season and he’s found a consistent role as the best point guard option on the Knicks. He’s started all four games for the franchise. Four games in Trey is putting up per game averages of 13.3 points, 5.3 assists, and four rebounds in just 25 minutes a game.

Sauce Castillo Finds His Shot vs. Lakers

In his fifth season and fourth NBA team, Nik Stauskas‘ sharp shooting and skills he showed as Michigan’s main guy is finally showing on the court. The 6-6 guard has played in three games with the Portland Trailblazers and has produced in two of them. His first game couldn’t have been a better start to the season for Stauskas. In LeBron James‘ debut with the Los Angeles Lakers, Stauskas scored 24 points in helping the Blazers ruin The King’s first game in Laker yellow and gold. After scoring just five points in his second game, Stauskas came back with 15 points in a loss to the Washington Wizards.

On the season (three games), Stauskas is avergaing 14 points off the bench, shooting 50% from the field, 52.9% from three (9-17), and 100% from the free throw line (7-7). This along with career highs of 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists. All this in 26 minutes off the bench. Unlike LeVert, Hardaway Jr. and Burke, Stauskas won’t get the same consistent opportunities and shots. Nik is coming off the bench so most nights, he’ll get limited touches, so though we believe in Stauskas shooting, we can see his numbers coming down to 10 points per game. Considering his career thus far, that’s a big step up.

Again, it’s early but as a Michigan Alumnae, it’s exciting to watch so many former Wolverines shining early on, growing and getting an opportunity to show off their NBA potential.

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