With workouts underway as of Monday, the new look Missouri Tigers (complete with blue chip recruits!) are taking the floor and dominating the conversation. There was a press conference yesterday and an online roster update which added each and every newcomer (to date). Just like last year I thought it would be a fun exercise to talk about where the roster is, who we might think will get the minutes, and what are going to be the most intriguing matchups to watch as we get into fall.
First, here’s the online roster posted at MUTigers.com:
Seeing everyone’s numbers is a little fun. We know Michael Porter Jr. ultimately chose #13, and it looks like everyone else kept their numbers from a season ago. The new guy got to pick their numbers, I’m fond of Blake Harris’ choice of #55, and any time you have a #0 on the roster it’s fun too.
But the real intrigue is figuring out who is going to play and where. Over the past few years this exercise has been decidedly less fun. Last year we knew Terrence Phillips was going to start at the point, Kevin Puryear was going to start at the “four” and the rest could be discussed.
This year, we know Porter is going to start, and Jontay Porter (when he reclassifies) is probably going to start because they are both really, really, really good. After that, you’re going to see competition. I feel like you can put a pencil on Phillips at the point, and then who knows? So here’s my stab at a depth chart.
|Point Guard||Combo Guard||Wing||Combo Forward||Post|
|Point Guard||Combo Guard||Wing||Combo Forward||Post|
|Terrence Phillips||Kassius Robertson||Jordan Barnett||Michael Porter Jr||Jontay Porter|
|Blake Harris||C.J. Roberts||Cullen VanLeer||Kevin Puryear||Jeremiah Tilmon|
|Jordan Geist||Brett Rau||Adam Wolf||Mitchell Smith||Reed Nikko|
I like asking twitter questions, and it’s always interesting the answers you get.
With the new Mizzou roster now posted online… who is your top 8?https://t.co/YOpxYmCRLS— Sam Snelling (@SamTSnelling) June 7, 2017
The responses were interesting but largely fell into those who believe in the newcomers + Puryear, Phillips and Barnett and those who think Geist, Nikko and the returners are going to more than hold their own.
Left out completely was Cullen VanLeer, for the second year in a row. And most seem to think Mitchell Smith may need some recovery time before he can be considered ready for prime time.
Matchups to watch
There aren’t a ton of matchups because the weird part of the roster is every player is unique in their own way. There aren’t a lot of guys who strictly matchup against each other for minutes, but we’ll do our best here.
Puryear-Tilmon-Nikko: I’m including Nikko here because of all the guys flying under the radar I think he has as good of a chance as anyone to contribute. The post minutes are going to be tough to figure because you have to imagine Michael Porter Jr gets plenty of minutes in a small-ball-four role, and that really puts the squeeze on more traditional big guys. Puryear has been such a vital player for two years but for the first time he’ll be really pushed by younger and arguably more talented interior players.
Phillips-Harris-Geist-Roberts: Minutes at the point has to be one of the most interesting battles. Phillips is clearly the most battle tested, and his pass-first approach might finally be appreciated with more talent around him. But the younger guys like Harris and Roberts will have a lot of momentum and enthusiasm on their side. Harris is more of a pure point so he’ll be the most likely to push Phillips off the ball if he can. While Geist and Roberts are more off the ball combo guards anyway, so their minutes at point are likely to be limited anyway.
Safe in their role
Michael Porter Jr. - I mean, yeah. He’ll easily be the best player on the floor every night he puts on his uniform. Porter will play where he wants.
Jordan Barnett - Regardless of whether Barnett is a starter or comes off the bench (my money is on starter), the Tigers are going to need JB to play a lot and be as good as he can be.
Kassius Robertson - As the top shooter on this team, his minutes will be there. Like Barnett, I don’t know if he’ll start but he’s as important of an addition as anyone outside of MPJ.
Jontay Porter - Like his brother, but to a lesser degree, ‘Tay is really, really good, so he’s going to play a lot*. His skill level and preparedness for a big role is far more advanced than some of the other bigs so I think he can provide 20-25 minutes a night if needed.
* if he reclassifies
Like most of Twitter, I’m not sure what to expect from Mitchell Smith or Cullen VanLeer. I still really like Smiths upside but it’s hard to get on board with a guy who is coming off such a serious injury. And with VanLeer, he’s a guy you root for to succeed but his performance hasn’t exactly blown anyone away. Contributions from either guy will have to chalked up as a welcome surprise.
Here’s the roster breakdown by position and class:
As I said above, it’s an interesting roster in that so many players bring such different tools. You can go big:
- Harris, Barnett, MPJ, Jontay, Tilmon
You can go small:
- Phillips, Roberts, Robertson, MPJ, Puryear
You can find balance:
- Phillips, Robertson, Barnett, MPJ, Tilmon
- Harris, Roberts, MPJ, Puryear, Jontay
You can go experienced:
- Phillips, Robertson, Barnett, MPJ, Puryear
There are a lot of different options. Here are some twitter options:
MPJ, TP, Barnett, Robertson, Geist, Puryear, Tilmon and Roberts https://t.co/67tE1kwtEv— Tramel Raggs (@Raggs_No_Riches) June 7, 2017
Phillips— Mark Kim (@MarkJKim_) June 7, 2017
Porter (assuming he reclassifies)
Phillips— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) June 7, 2017
Roberts or Harris
Jontay, Puryear, MPJ, Robertson, TP. Bench of Tilmon, Barnett, Roberts. (I actually think Geist will be ahead of Roberts/Harris to start.)— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) June 7, 2017
TP— little jealous josh (@joshmajika) June 7, 2017
What do you think? Who is your starting five, plus first 3 off the bench?
Starting five to begin the season? What about the end of the season?