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Looking Back: Player Predictions

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How accurate was I in predicting the UW players’ stats and roles on the team?

NCAA Basketball: Washington at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season started I gave my predictions for how the season would go for every Husky. Now that the season is over, let’s look back at what I got right and what I got wrong. For those of you who view me as infallible I suggest you close the article now and preserve your innocence. I already got your page view so you’ve done your part.

Matisse Thybulle

2017/18 Stat Predictions:

31 minutes per game, 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 47%/42%/85% FG%/3pt%/FT%

2017/18 Actual Production:

32.3 minutes per game, 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 44.5%/36.5%/71.4% FG%/3pt%/FT%

Good Quote: “Thybulle will have the chance to lead the conference if not the nation in steals...

Bad Quote: “He also has become a very good outside shooter and if that continues to improve then he is the consummate 3 and D guy.”

I came pretty darn close to nailing this one. The one thing that I didn’t anticipate was Thybulle regressing a little as a shooter. If he had shot the same percentages from 3 and from the line that he did last season then the points per game number would’ve gotten close to 13. But he recovered well from his early shooting slump. Matisse was 29.4% from deep in the non-conference but shot 41.8% from then on which is essentially what I thought he’d be all season.

Matisse’s steals numbers were if anything slightly more spectacular than I thought they would be. He finished 1st in the conference in steals and 4th in the country on his way to conference defensive player of the year.

Noah Dickerson

2017/18 Predictions:

30 minutes per game, 16.7 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game, 57%/69.5% FG%/FT%

2017/18 Actual Production:

26 minutes per game, 15.5 points per game, 8.4 rebounds per game, 56.9%/78.6% FG%/FT%

Good Quote: “There’s still value in having a guy who you can give the ball to around the basket to get you 2 points when the offense is struggling. Dickerson has become that guy.”

Bad Quote: “Without taking into account the possibility that it’s Dickerson himself who develops that jumper.”

On a per minute basis Noah actually slightly exceeded my expectations although he ended up playing a little less than I thought. But otherwise I was almost completely spot on. The per minute scoring increase can be attributed almost entirely to Dickerson’s improvements shooting free throws as his percentage rose over 9 percent. You don’t often see guys go from average to excellent in one off-season.

I had question marks about Dickerson’s defense, and his block and steal percentages remained extremely low but the zone definitely suited him much more than man defense. He also kept up his ability to pick up charges which probably caused as many turnovers as if he were an above average shot blocker. Playing to his strengths is what has helped him become a 1st team all-conference player.

David Crisp

2017/18 Predictions:

33 minutes, 15.8 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 turnovers, 40.2%/37.8%/70.1% FG%/3pt%/FT%

2017/18 Actual Production:

34.6 minutes, 11.6 points, 3.1 assists, 2.4 turnovers, 38%/28.6%/66.4% FG%/3pt%/FT%

Good Quote: “ Crisp is essentially the only point guard on the roster and he will have to develop a number of skills he doesn’t currently possess in order to fill that role adequately. It’s certainly not impossible for him to do so but it has to be considered unlikely.”

Bad Quote: ”If he could just harness his ability and focus on his fundamentals then he can be a tremendous shooter/scorer and an adequate defender.”

The most criticized player on the team ended up being just as frustrating a point guard as I thought he would be. I noted that Andrew Andrews had made the transition from scoring guard to point guard and hoped that Crisp might go through a similar evolution. But it never materialized and his decision making is still well below average.

At least in his sophomore season Crisp was also a good shooter and I thought that would continue. Instead his numbers dropped off a cliff this year and led to him being a clear minus much of the time. In the preview I showed the inconsistencies in Crisp’s 3-point shooting form and they became even more pronounced when he tried to shoot off the dribble versus catch and shoot with someone else driving and kicking.

Sam Timmins

2017/18 Predictions:

22 minutes, 4.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 53.5%/55.5% FG%/FT%

2017/18 Actual Production:

18 minutes, 4.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 57.7%/55.9% FG%/FT%

Good Quote: “On defense, he’s infinitely better suited to play zone unless he is matched up against a center who also can’t shoot or dribble... On offense, you don’t give him the ball in the post and tell him to back his guy down. Keep him away from the basket until someone drives and then let him cut and either get the ball moving towards the basket so he doesn’t have to dribble or be in position for an offensive rebound and a put back.”

Bad Quote: “It was only 11 possessions but last year Timmins shot 50% from the field in spot up situations including a 3-point make. If he could develop even the beginnings of a game similar to Thomas Welsh at UCLA it would be a huge spacing advantage for the Dawgs. That isn’t going to happen in one offseason but I’d like to see Timmins take steps towards it this year.”

Sam Timmins made some progress in the non-conference but seemed to regress once the competition level stepped up again. His turnover rate was lower overall this year but was higher than his 1st season in conference play. 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. He never developed a shooting touch and I’d be surprised if he attempted a shot further from 5 feet from the basket the entire year. It was wishful thinking then and I won’t fall into the same trap this off-season.

He made progress as a shot blocker as his block percentage rose from 4.1% to 5.7% when just asked to anchor the paint with his arms outstretched. His slow feet were less of an issue when he didn’t have to worry about being placed in a pick and roll on the perimeter. Timmins may be the most predictable guy on the roster. There are some clear areas where it’s reasonable to expect improvement (finishing above the rim, decision making) but it’s pretty clear that his ceiling is as an above average backup big man who can occasionally give good minutes as a starter on the right night.

Jaylen Nowell

2017/18 Predictions:

21 minutes, 7.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 43%/33.6%/68.5% FG%/3pt%/FT%

2017/18 Actual Production:

32 minutes, 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 45.1%/35.1%/80% FG%/3pt%/FT%

Good Quote: “Nowell is an elite athlete with a complete offensive game that should allow him to step in and be a starter from day one. “

Bad Quote: “Jaylen is a true shooting guard but I wouldn’t be shocked if he occasionally saw minutes as a primary ball handler when Crisp is on the bench given UW’s dearth of options there.”

My quotes were fairly accurate but I did a much worse job of predicting Jaylen’s impact in terms of the numbers than anyone on the team. I considered putting Nowell as a 13 points per game scorer but I didn’t see where the numbers were going to come from. It ended up that he stole 3 points from my Thybulle prediction and 4 points from Crisp to end up as the leading scorer.

And I include that as my bad quote because Jaylen increasingly saw minutes as a primary ball handler even when Crisp was on the court. His passing isn’t at the level where you want to call him your point guard but Nowell did enough to show that he’s more than just a spot up shooter/hero ball type shooting guard. His assist rate of 17.7 ended up being the highest of anyone on the team. Mea culpa, Jaylen. Sorry for doubting you.

Dominic Green

2017/18 Predictions:

9 minutes, 2.4 points, 1.3 rebounds, 41.5%/29.6%/75.5% FG%/3pt%/FT%

2017/18 Actual Production:

20.7 minutes, 5.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 41.5%/43.2%/67.6% FG%/3pt%/FT%

Good Quote: “It’s possible for Green to rebound. I don’t think he’s going to shoot 45%+ from deep any time soon but if he could get into the mid 30’s it would salvage his value as a player.

Bad Quote: “This team has a glut of players at the wing. I would certainly put Green behind Matisse Thybulle, Jaylen Nowell, and Carlos Johnson. It’s also not crazy to think that he could be passed by Nahz Carter or Bitumba Baruti.”

If you flip flopped my predictions for Carlos Johnson and Dominic Green then I’d have looked ok. The potential for Green was there. He was too good of a player coming out of high school to think that he was just incapable of making a basket. Confidence was Green’s problem and once he found it he was an entirely different player.

His intensity on defense notably improved and he shot 43.5% from deep in conference play which was a top-10 mark in the conference. For a stretch in conference play he was basically the 5th starter on the team even though Timmins technically started each half on the court. If this same player shows up next year from day one it will be a big boost.

Hameir Wright

2017/18 Predictions:

15 minutes, 4.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 42.5%/27.6%/66.6% FG%/3pt%/FT%

2017/18 Actual Production:

14.9 minutes , 2.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 36.9%/27%/40.6% FG%/3pt%/FT%

Good Quote: “Wright likely won’t be a starter but he will play a major role on this roster.”

Bad Quote: ”Expect to see lineups with Wright guarding the basket in a zone while stretching the floor on offense and opening up the paint for Dickerson or Timmins.”

I envisioned Hameir Wright to be a different player than he was in his freshman season for UW. Wright showed flashes as a weapon on both ends for about a two week stretch in the non-conference and then looked afraid to touch the ball once it got to Pac-12 play. He shot 50% from deep in the non-con and 13% after that. That’s a bad split.

Wright ended up playing less center than I expected although he got much more run in that spot towards the end of the year. He showed clear improvement at limiting fouls and was a very good shot blocker. His block percentage of 7.3% would’ve ranked 4th in the conference if he had played more minutes. Wright will eventually be a really good player for Washington it just wasn’t in year one and might not be in year two with very few defections next year. Remember that he was originally going to be a part of the 2018 class so he’s a year ahead of schedule. I’m expecting him to be a starter as the 4 on offense and in the corner on defense in the zone in his junior year.

Nahziah Carter

2017/18 Predictions:

Not a regular part of the rotation.

2017/18 Actual Production:

14.2 minutes, 5.1 points , 1.7 rebounds , 46.9%/40.9%/61.8% FG%/3pt%/FT%

Good Quote: “The question for Nahziah is whether he can harness his raw athleticism and become a more well-rounded basketball player.”

Bad Quote: ”This team is loaded at the wing so he will have to really turn some heads to end up as more than bench depth this season.”

I didn’t see Carter beating out both Johnson and Green for minutes and thought he would spend a lot more time on the bench. What I didn’t take into account is that in the zone he would have the ability to play on offense as an undersized 4 without hurting the defense much.

His spot up shooting was seemingly much better than advertised but the sample sizes were still too small to get a sense for how good he really is from 3. The 4/4 performance in the season finale against Saint Mary’s brought up the percentage as he was at just 25% in conference play. But his athleticism clearly translated as he was pretty much a taller, longer, and better Carlos Johnson at times. Carter had a solid freshman season and while he probably will never be a primary option, it isn’t hard to imagine him eventually starting and topping out as an above average defender and solid 3rd option on offense.

Carlos Johnson

2017/18 Predictions:

19 minutes, 5.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 43%/28.2%/63.4% FG%/3pt%/FT%

2017/18 Actual Production:

8.5 minutes, 3.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, 56.8%/33.3%/59.1% FG%/3pt%/FT%

Good Quote: “If Carlos Johnson can avoid taking the step backward and improve to 32% from deep this year it would be a huge boost for the offense. “

Bad Quote: ”If Johnson really focuses then he has the potential to be a fantastic energy guard off the bench this season.”

A swing and a miss. Coming into the year I expected Carlos Johnson to pass Dominic Green on the depth chart and that most certainly did not happen as he played just 10.5% of the team’s minutes and mostly appeared in garbage time during the second half of the season.

Part of that was my lack of understanding that UW would exclusively play zone and that Hopkins saw Johnson as essentially unable to play that style. His shorter arms and general unawareness of what else is happening on the court made him a non-factor in the zone.

Carlos did see his 3pt shooting get better but the sample sizes were way too small (6 attempts) to tell whether he actually improved. Most of the time when he entered the game we saw the same bulldog mindset that demonstrated toughness but also made him extremely prone to mental errors that could damage the team.

Michael Carter III

2017/18 Predictions:

7 minutes, 1.2 points, 1.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists 39%/29.6%/65% FG%/3pt%/FT%

2017/18 Actual Production:

7.4 minutes, 1.3 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 25%/23.1%/62.5% FG%/3pt%/FT%

Good Quote: “Despite having the lowest pedigree of any of the 2017 class, there is a gaping hole at point guard which all but guarantees that Carter III will see decent chunks of playing time.”

Bad Quote: ”Despite having the lowest pedigree of any of the 2017 class, there is a gaping hole at point guard which all but guarantees that Carter III will see decent chunks of playing time.”

I didn’t really know what to expect from Michael Carter III and he mostly lived up to that lack of expectations. The broken hand obviously robbed him of a lot of game experience that he really needed to find his way. There was about a 3-game stretch after he returned from injury where his +/- numbers were off the charts but that quickly normalized. His shooting percentages were all atrocious although in small samples. The size and length at the point guard spot in the zone is intriguing if the offense improves. Going into next year I still don’t really know whether he has the ability to develop into a nice backup point guard or if he’ll be a candidate to transfer this or next year.

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