Welcome to “Italy Rewind,” our player-by-player recap and video feature from Michigan’s four-game tour of Italy. Previously: Zak Irvin, Ricky Doyle
Kameron Chatman is going to play the same position that Glenn Robinson III filled for the past two seasons, but he’s going to provide a very different look. Chatman isn’t the athlete that Robinson is and he’s certainly not going to rack up as many highlight dunks, but his unique skill set could actually be a better fit for the four position in Michigan’s offense.
There’s a very natural quality to Chatman’s game. He fits in, makes the correct passes and is almost always in the right spot to score. He’s never quite the focal point of the offense, but he does just enough that you never forget he’s involved.
Chatman was up and down shooting the ball in Italy – his 47.5 eFG% was the worst among Michigan’s rotation players — but his stroke looks much improved from his time in high school. He was very effective in the mid-range game, he rebounded, he pushed the ball up the floor and made a number of crisp passes.
By the numbers
After just eight practices and before Michigan left for Italy, John Beilein didn’t hesitate to praise Chatman’s knowledge of the game.
“His basketball IQ has been outstanding,” Beilein said before the tour. “He’s picked up some of our concepts and some of our actions as quick as anybody we’ve ever had. He’s been very productive as far as his talk and his knowledge of the game.”
Picking up Michigan’s offense is no easy task and Chatman already looks comfortable on the floor. He demonstrated the ability to pass the ball off of ball screens and push the ball in transition off of defensive rebounds – two skills that are invaluable for Beilein wings. Playing as a natural left-hander, he has the tools to be the best playmaker that Michigan has had on the right side of the floor under John Beilein.
Defensively, he could struggle against bigger four men, but he managed to grab four rebounds per game during the tour. His ability, like the rest of Michigan’s wings, to get on the glass will be critical with such an inexperienced frontcourt.
Chatman posted well rounded numbers in Europe, with averages of 9.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, but there were a couple of voids in his game. Through four games in Italy, he didn’t attempt a single free throw despite ranking fourth on Michigan’s roster in shot attempts. His ability to get to the basket rather than settle for a mid-range jumper will be one area to track early on in his career.
Watching the 6-foot-7 West coast native play on film, it’s clear that he’s still finding where he fits with some of his new teammates. On one possession he’d throw the perfect ball screen pass, on the next he would be just a split second late on his read.
“We’ve just been getting a feel for things,” Chatman said before the trip. “ We’ve just been learning each other. Just knowing how people play. Who can shoot it, who can rebound it or who can push it.”
While Chatman figures out his teammates, John Beilein is figuring out where best to use his versatile forward.
“We’re still trying to find out the sweet spots of his game,” Beilein explained. “And (teach him) when it’s time to make a play and be a player.”
It will take a while for Chatman and Beilein to find the proper balance, but it’s only August and Beilein couldn’t ask for a more versatile piece to tinker with leading up to the season.