Report Card 2015: Kameron Chatman

Dylan Burkhardt
on

Previously: Zak IrvinSpike Albrecht, Ricky Doyle, Aubrey Dawkins, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman

Freshman forward Kameron Chatman arrived in Ann Arbor with big shoes to fill. He was the No. 27 ranked prospect in the class of 2015 and he was expected to show up on campus and immediately replace Glenn Robinson III’s production.

Replacing a player that declared for the NBA Draft after their sophomore is never easy, but Robinson’s contributions and talents had also been largely overlooked by Michigan fans.The 6-foot-6 sophomore had scored most of his points off of alley-oops and in transition, but his ability to finish around the rim was elite and vital to the Wolverines’ NCAA-leading offense over the past two seasons.

Kameron Chatman is nothing like Glenn Robinson III and Michigan fans learned that very quickly. Although Chatman earned Beilein’s endorsement as a ‘rotation player’ during the summer trip to Italy and was named an opening day starter, it didn’t take long before it was clear that he was in over his head.

Chatman averaged 3.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game as a freshman and saw his playing time decrease as the season wore on. Here’s how he compares to other incoming top-50 recruits last season.

kam-chat

That graph is pretty ugly as there were only a handful of top-50 prospects who posted per game scoring averages worse than Chatman’s freshman season. And it wasn’t like Michigan didn’t need any extra minutes or production. Chatman fell out of the starting lineup midway through the season and wasn’t able to earn minutes even when Michigan’s roster was ravished by injuries.

kam

Strengths

  • Passing Ability: Chatman might not have posted gaudy assist numbers, but his passing ability was still evident. He had twice as many assists as fellow four-man Aubrey Dawkins despite playing roughly 75% as many minutes. While 22 assists in a season is nothing to brag about, Chatman’s vision and passing ability were still ahead of most of his freshman teammates. In the future, perhaps as soon as this season, it will be that passing ability which helps Chatman find a niche.
  • Rebounding: Chatman grabbed 16.5% of defensive rebounding opportunities when he was on the floor — a mark only topped by Derrick Walton — and was also able to grab a few offensive rebounds as well. He has the ability to be a more consistent rebounder and even in limited playing time has shown better rebounding ability than some of Michigan’s other wings.

Room for Improvement

  • Finishing: Chatman shot just 41% at the rim as a freshman and that’s not going to cut it for a 6-foot-7 kid playing the four, especially when he was replacing Robinson’s 71% finishing clip from the previous season. The four position in Michigan’s offense is designed for a lot of quick hitters and easy basket plays and Chatman didn’t have the ability to convert those at a high clip.
  • Shooting: Chatman shot 34% on mid-range jumpers and 26.3% on three-point jumpers. Both of those numbers are pretty ugly — especially from long range — and will need to improve in the future. Michigan’s offense relies on multiple guys who are capable of sticking jump shots and Chatman wasn’t even close on some of his attempts as a freshman.
  • Inconsistency: Chatman’s best plays were usually followed by a mistake or defensive breakdown. He had a hard time adjusting to the pace and intensity of the game on both ends of the floor which meant he was never able to put together long stretches of consistent play.

Shining Moment

Chatman tallied 10 points, nine rebounds, two assists in Michigan’s 68-65 win over Syracuse.

“That would’ve been about an eight-point, 10-point game at half if it wasn’t for Kam,” Beilein said after the win. “He got rebounds, he saw out of the post, made a couple 15-footers. He’s still learning. He’s going to learn for four years.”

Outlook

Grade: C

Chatman’s freshman season couldn’t have gone much worse. He was tagged with high expectations out of the gate and despite a few early season flashes he generally regressed as the year wore on. He showed flashes down the stretch with three or four quality performances in the final month of the season — but overall he failed to impress.

The big question for Chatman is “now what?”

Aubrey Dawkins outplayed Chatman in the second half of last year and is now penciled in as the starter at the four position. DJ Wilson missed last year with an injury redshirt and now will be angling for minutes at the four and five positions. Moritz Wagner is coming across the Atlantic and will want to play the four position. Duncan Robinson sat out last season and excels in one of the areas where Chatman struggles — shooting — and will want a spot in the rotation.

Chatman might improve, but where is he going to find a role? He’s probably not going to shoot the ball better than Dawkins or Robinson. He’s not as big as Wilson or Wagner. Somewhere, somehow Chatman has to find his niche in the offense.

If he’s going to make an offseason transformation it’s going to need to be both mental and physical. Physically he needs to get stronger and more athletic to allow him to finish plays around the basket.

One of the hardest things for freshman to grasp in the college game is the importance of not making mistakes. Playing 35 minutes without without filling up the stat sheet is oftentimes better than scoring 8 points and making five mistakes.

There are roughly 65 defensive possessions in a game and most mental mistakes at this level result in an automatic two points or a lost possession. Possessions are the name of the game and giving away possessions leads to losses. Mistakes plagued Chatman throughout his freshman season and if he’s able to eliminate some of those mistakes he could make major strides.

Making a few more jumpers certainly wouldn’t hurt, but the 6-foot-7 forward from Oregon needs to start by doing the little things and letting the rest fall into place. There’s certainly the talent there to make an impact, but he’ll have to work his way back into the rotation given Michigan’s depth on the wings.

  • Manny Fresh

    I still have a lot of hope for Kam. He definitely has a lot of talent. I hope he gets opportunities this year but I agree that he’s going to have to find a way to get back into the rotation

  • Lanknows

    Worth remembering that Chatman played his HS ball at a tiny program in Oregon. It was always going to take him a bit of time.

    When Chatman was on his game he was an impact player. He has a long way to go, and consistency is the biggest problem, but nobody should write him off. Mentally and physically – he has a lot of room for improvement, and the production will follow.

    Personally, I think there’s a decent chance he starts next year again. That would allow him to focus on being a complementary player (to our big 3 and Doyle), while also letting Dawkins come off the bench as the first man in between the 2, 3, or 4 spot (like Irvin and LeVert have been before).

    • Anonymous

      Disagree. Dawkins isn’t going anwhere. He is too important to a JB offense. Here is the starting lineup.
      PG…Walton
      SG…LeVert
      SF…Dawkins
      F…Irvin
      C….Doyle
      Why that lineup? Dawkins is the sharpshooter and compliments LeVert (jack of all trades). Irvin has now morphed into a rebounder…assist guy and a nightmare at the #4. The offense will work…firepower.
      Dawkins is not coming off the floor.

      • NorthernBlue

        I agree, that’s a great offense and think it should be the starting lineup unless they see major improvement from someone else. But, if Dawkins doesn’t have it going or maybe they want more size, then Kam could be a great option to bring off the bench. I am interested in seeing his improvement with strength and conditioning, as well as if he can catch up to the pace of the game. There’s some natural talent there.

  • Anonymous

    Grade of C? Grade inflation?
    I am hopeful for Chatman too but relative to his peers on this team, expectations, goofy rankings…he should get a grade of D….at best.
    Think of the logic. He started….lost his job and the hardly played at the end. I’d hate to see what someone did who got a lower grade. Donnal had a slightly better year (lol) than Chatman. I am willing to bet that Chatman got what I call ‘high potential/frosh bias’ factored into the grade.
    Great site and enjoy the work/observations.

    • MrLG

      Agree, C is too high. D seems a bit harsh, I would suggest D+/C-.

      • AC1997

        Agree. Reading the details and the fact that he went from starting and playing 25-30 minutes to barely being able to sniff 10 minutes I think you’re looking at D+.

  • UMTigersWingsLions

    KC will be in the starting line-up. We need him for an added big man. Caris, DW, Zak, Doyle, and KC for the starting 5. Aubrey will be the 6th man, because we already have shooters in Caris and Zak, so KC will be needed for an extra rebounder.

    • Anonymous

      Nope. Wrong. No. Let’s go through this stuff.
      1. Irvin is not a very good shooter. Especially from 3 pt distance. Ask Dylan.
      2. LeVert didn’t have a great shooting year before his injury.
      3. Why would you put your 2nd-3rd best player on the bench?
      4. Ask Dylan who was the best player on the team was last year in the last month. Maybe Dawkins? Regardless, it was a close call.
      5. Irvin is getting better on the defensive end and has improved his assist ratio. Why turn him into a shooter when he is inconsistent at best.
      6. The most obvious reason. This one is just too too easy. Why was Irvin so much better at the end of the year? Maybe because Dawkins was hitting perimeter shots which took pressure off of Irvin to score as much.

      • Anonymous

        From this website.

        But Dawkins excelled in other areas as well, most notably behind the arc. He finished Big Ten regular-season play with the league’s best effective field goal percentage (63.3%) and true shooting percentage (65.8%) against conference opponents

        .
        My comments. Why would you remove this guy from the floor. Makes no sense whatsoever in a system that is predicated on 3 pt perimeter shooting.

        • UMTigersWingsLions

          Because we need another big on the floor besides Doyle

          • Anonymous

            No we don’t. UM/Beilein had Morgan on the floor. Had GRIII at the #4. It’s about ‘tude’ and Irvin seems to have had the light pop on in the last few weeks. He is a tenacious guy on the boards. Seems to like it and he isn’t demonstrably smaller than GRIII.

  • JJ3ball

    I don’t know how many minutes will be available for Kam next season. I think Kam eventually is a good role player if he stays persistent, but the minutes might not be there until his junior season. A few guys are going to play limited minutes next season, Kam is a candidate to be one of them.

    I think the following are lock rotation players:
    1.Doyle
    2. LeVert
    3. Irvin
    4. Walton
    5. Spike
    6.Dawkins

    Near locks:
    7. MAAR
    8. Robinson

    Scrambling for minutes:
    9. Donnal
    10. Chatman
    11. Wilson
    12. Wagner

    A few players are going to get their fortitude tested, having to fight their way into the rotation
    Either Donnal or Wilson will emerge as the primary backup to Doyle; my money is on Wilson, if both are healthy

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think MAAR is a near lock unless Spike isn’t quite 100%. Need to see Robinson. I agree with your list for the most part. I think scrambling part are guys who aren’t going to have to bring it. Going to be fun with this team since other than the top 6….minutes will have to be earned.

    • Him Paino

      Cam will play and I bet that he surprise many people. The kid has skills and with added strength and a year under the system. I can guareentee that you will the highly rated recruit that everyone was looking for . I don’t know why people write off players so fast. Smh.

    • zeroskie

      As much as I like MAAR and I truly believe he has earned playing time, I think we’re going to see him with reduced minutes this season ~12-15min probably. I also think Robinson is going to play a role similar to Irvin’s freshman year. Dawkins and Robinson are both great shooters but the reason to start Dawkins over Robinson is simply because Dawkins can elevate and run sets that we used to draw up for GRIII.

      Fingers crossed to see Chatman break out this year. Kid has so much potential, made me cringe most of last year.

      Starters and 6th-man
      1. Walton
      2. LeVert
      3. Irvin
      4. Dawkins
      5. Doyle
      6. Spike

      Role Players
      1. Chatman
      2. Wilson
      3. MAAR

      Bench/RS
      – Wagner
      – Donnal

      Maybe I’m being too optimistic

  • Champswest

    I think Cam will become an excellent player, although it may take him another year. I could also see him starting this year. It might depend on how well others improve and who is the best defensively. There is going to be good competition at the 3 and 4.

  • Wayman Britt

    I hope I am wrong, but I think Kam will be sitting next to Donnal a lot watching other players next year. Usually you can tell somebody is going to be good even if they struggle their freshman year. Didn’t see much potential with Kam.

    • Him Paino

      You are wrong

    • mikey_mac

      I don’t disagree with you on what we saw, but if Kam was truly that far behind the speed and toughness of the B1G game mentally, we could see a lot of “growth” just by seeing Kam mature and find a level of comfort on the court. The minutes crunch is really working against him, though.

  • Nick

    Should be noted that he finished the year with 2 good performances against OSU and Rutgers. Bodes well!

    • Mattski

      Right–the way he played against Illinois game me considerable hope. Not going to write such a promising player off QUITE yet. His path to playing time, however, is not an easy one, as Dylan points out.

  • David

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned here is the very small sample size we’re utilizing.

    Cam only took 38 three-pointers last year and made 10, for 26.3%.

    This just isn’t a big enough sample to make a statistical claim that he isn’t actually, say, a 35% three-point shooter. (I won’t bore everyone with statistical details, but I ran the analysis.) For example, if Cam had made just 3 additional three-pointers all season, he’d have shot 34.2%.

    According to the above data, Cam shot 34% on mid-range jumpers. I don’t have the full dataset, but I would add that (1) the mid-range sample above is clearly small when looking at the shot chart, and (2) 34% isn’t actually all that low (and likely not statistically significant) when you compare it to, for example, the NBA average of 39% for mid-range shots.

    This is all to say that I’m still pretty optimistic for Cam’s future. I think he has a pretty looking lefty jump shot, his sample size of distance shots was very small last year, and freshmen tend to improve. I’m not claiming he’s going to shoot it like Nik Stauskas, but we should withhold judgment.

    • UMHoopsFan

      Just to add to this point, Kam shot 36% from 3 during conference play (on 11 shots).

  • duffy

    Kind of off topic, but at what point do we start to get worried that there’s been no official announcement in regards to Wagner? I know he still has to pass that test for english competence, but we’re getting inside the 3 month period for the start of the new school year.

    • bobohle

      IMO now. We had a similar issue a few years ago with German Robin Bensing. Although I hope Wagner does make it to Michigan.

      • Dana

        You are comparing someone very good at English and someone that struggled with the language. The recruiting profiles said not to worry because Wagner was very comfortable speaking and writing in English.

        • bobohle

          Well I hope you are correct. Thanks for your insight. I was not aware of that.

  • AC1997

    I think the 4 position next year will determine how far this team goes. I have serious doubts with Kam and Wagner in terms of being ready for major contributions. On top of that, I think Wilson is a back-up 5 next year (which I think is a good thing). My prediction is that most of the available forward minutes go to Dawkins, Irvin, and Robinson, with Levert getting some in a small lineup. Either Kam or Wagner would probably be best served red-shirting.

    As for Kam, I do think there’s promise there. I think his shot will be fine eventually and he has the size and raw skills to be an excellent fit at the 4 for this team. But he is so raw right now that I have a hard time seeing him improve that much in one off-season. He was slow, out of shape, lacking strength, and mentally lost out there. That’s a lot to rebuild. His primary attribute is supposedly his passing ability, but that’s not an overwhelming strength in this system from the 4 position when you have a shaky handle and shot. If Kam makes a big improvement that will really help this team as he fits a critical need, but I think Robinson has a much bigger chance of breaking through.

    (Kam should watch tapes of Draymond Green from when he was in college as they are similar at this stage of their development…..and he should avoid all tapes of Willie Mitchel since he’s also at a similar stage of his career arc.)

    • Him Paino

      I am willing to bet all the money that I have that Kam will have a break out season. Big name schools like Arizona, U Conn wanted Kam. He is very skilled. He focus on strength and shooting he will be a beast. Some players struggle in their first season and turn it around . LOOK at Peedie, Jordan Morgan Darius Morris , spike and Car is Levert. EVEN Mitch Mcgary needed time to get accustomed to the speed of college. BEILIEN didn’t recruit him and start him if he didn’t show any potential. I just don’t give up on players. Also just because Wagner had one bad game everyone is saying that he isn’t good enough to contribute and he should red shirt…. you got all that from one video. Let the kid the kid play in a Michigan uniform first . Have a blessed memorial day.

      • AC1997

        My opinion of Wagner, which is admittedly uneducated in this case, is based on far more than one video. It is based on the fact that big guys take time to develop, that the transition from countries and leagues will take time, that he needs to add weight and muscle, that he has to learn the system, that he is joining a crowded and talented roster, and that the easiest way to get minutes at Michigan is to be a good shooter…..something that is still not a strength for him.

        As for Kam, I hope you are right…..and I hope you dont actually bet all that money. There are reasons for optimism….but some of the same reasons I just mentioned are going to make it hard on Kam to earn more minutes than he was at the end of the year. Frankly, I see Robinson as the breakout player because he is the same size, a year older, been in the system just as long, and a great shooter.

        • Him Paino

          I agree on Duncan Robinson. I love shooting but he is also very skilled. Either way we will have one of the most talent and skilled roster. You forgot that Kam also spent a year in the same system. Either way, I am very excited about this team. We are going to be a match up nightmare.

  • UMHoopsFan

    Minutes are going to be interesting. I expect Kam to get every chance to earn playing time. In other words, I think JB and co believe, rightly, that the team will be at its best if Kam is playing and playing well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Robinson get more minutes backing up the 2 & 3, with Caris and Zak able to move around between the 2-3-4 spots.