Hunter Dickinson is on pace to be a Freshman All-American, Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers look like pros, and Eli Brooks and Chaundee Brown Jr. are among the best perimeter defenders in the Big Ten. Michigan has a lot of pieces, many of whom are exceeding individual expectations, but entering this season, it wasn’t obvious if they would fit together.
Dickinson had never played a college game and Wagner, Brooks and Livers had never played without a ball-dominant point guard. It’s hard to win big in college basketball without a reliable point guard, no matter how much raw talent is on the roster. Juwan Howard found his point guard in April and plucked him out of the Ivy League.
There was no guarantee that Mike Smith could play at the Big Ten level when he committed to Howard. Two months into the season, it’s scary to imagine Michigan’s offense without him. Smith has transformed Michigan’s offense with his ability to make plays out of ball screens and balance the Wolverine offense.