Michigan State got a lot of production from the power forward position the last few seasons thanks mostly to Adreian Payne. Now that Payne has moved on and is now playing for the Atlanta Hawks, it’s time for Tom Izzo to figure out who will replace him. These are a few of his options along with my prediction as to who will be the starter.
MARVIN CLARKAt this point, Marvin Clark is probably best known by Spartan fans as “Tum Tum” Nairn’s high school teammate. Nairn, a fellow 2014 MSU recruit, comes to MSU with a lot more hype and excitement surrounding him than Clark, but don’t let his lack of recruiting stars fool you–Marvin Clark can play.
Clark is a left-handed 6-foot-7, 225 pound forward whose size and skill-set allows him to do a lot of different things well. He averaged almost 22 points per game his senior year in high school, so he is no stranger to scoring.
Clark’s body looks to be ready for the college game right now, but then again that is what most people were saying this time last year about Gavin Schilling. While Schilling struggled his freshman year despite his mature frame, Clark seems to have a better chance of succeeding this year because of his more polished offensive game.
It will be extremely difficult for Clark to come in and earn a starting job right away, but look for him to make an impact off the bench by providing some scoring punch.
There isn’t that much to say about Branden Dawson that hasn’t been said before.
He is still a freak athlete who can jump out of the gym and throw down highlight reel dunks, but his inconsistent play continues to baffle and frustrate Spartan fans. Maybe something will click for Dawson in his senior year, knowing this is his last chance to prove to NBA scouts, and himself, that he can play at a high level consistently. He showed signs of it in the postseason last year, but the question still remains as to whether or not he can sustain that performance over the course of an entire season.
As far as his fit at power forward is concerned, he is slightly undersized height-wise at just 6-foot-6 but what he lacks in height he makes up for in athleticism. He led the team in rebounding last season with 8.3 per game, many of which came on the offensive glass where he has dominated since coming to Michigan State.
Despite all the questions about his consistency, Dawson still has all the skills necessary to be a dominant power forward in the B1G.
The most pleasant surprise last season for Michigan State was the emergence of Kenny Kaminski. Spartan fans had heard the stories about Kaminski’s shooting prowess in practice but were forced to curb their enthusiasm because they had heard the same stories a few years earlier about Russell Byrd, and we all know how that turned out.
Kaminski managed to prove that he isn’t just a practice shooter, nailing over 49 percent of his 3-pointers last season. The addition of a knock-down shooter like Kaminski opened up the offense for the rest of the team by forcing the defense to stretch all the way out to him on the 3-point line.
The questions about Kaminski are his defense and physicality. He struggled to find the floor early on in the season because he couldn’t play defense up to Izzo’s standards, but eventually he figured it out enough to earn over 12 minutes per game. As far as his physicality and rebounding are concerned he has size at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, but he averaged just 1.5 rebounds per game last season.
Kaminski is the ideal “stretch-4” that coaches covet nowadays, but Tom Izzo likes players who can defend and rebound, neither of which are Kaminski’s strengths.
I believe Izzo will go somewhat small with his starting lineup by playing Branden Dawson at power forward. His defense and rebounding make him one of the most valuable players on the team, and power forward is the position where he can do the most damage.
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