Our player profile breaks down a Wolverine’s game and compares them to other players.
On the heels of his fourth 20-point performance in his last five games. Iggy Brazdeikis is the subject of this week’s player profile.
A native of Oakville, Ontario, Brazdeikis played in the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association as a high schooler. He was named the league MVP in 2017 and 2018, averaging 30.0 points as a junior and 28.4 in his senior season. Coming out of high school, scouting services weren’t exactly sure what to make of Brazdeikis. ESPN ranked him as a four-star recruit, but Brandon Johns and David DeJulius were the only Wolverines to make its top 100 list. Meanwhile, 247 named Brazdeikis the 40th best prospect in the country in its composite rankings.
Brazdeikis has the ability to score from all three levels, which is a key reason for his immediate success at Michigan. His size and athleticism allow him to take defenders off the dribble and hold his own inside the paint. At the start of the season, Brazdeikis got a majority of his points through drives and mid-range jumpers. Over the last four games, he’s added a consistent 3-pointer to his repertoire, making at least two in each of those contests. Brazdeikis is averaging 17.0 points per game — the most on the team — while shooting 54.2 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three. He is also the team’s second-leading rebounder at 5.1 per game.
Questions and expectations:
He scored at least 15 points in all three of the Wolverines’ games in Spain, so it’s not surprising Brazdeikis is making an immediate contribution. There was certainly a sense of optimism surrounding him when he arrived in Ann Arbor, but it’s safe to say no one thought he would be this good this fast. The addition of another high-level scorer to take some of the burden off of Charles Matthews makes Michigan much more difficult to guard. Plus, Brazdeikis provides John Beilein with a vastly different skillset than anyone else on the team.
He’s not a high-volume shooter, scoring 99 points on 61 shots over his last five games. His ability to finish with either hand puts uncertainty in defender’s heads when he drives to the basket. The final piece was finding his stroke from deep, which he appears to have done. If Brazdeikis continues to contribute an efficient 17 points consistently, Michigan is one of the best five teams in the country. There is no glaring weakness in his game and he fits beautifully with a point guard like Zavier Simpson, who is excellent finding cutters and running the floor.
Big Ten comparison: Vic Law (Northwestern)
Of all the players in the Big Ten, Law’s game is the most similar to Brazdeikis’. Both listed at 6-foot-7, they combine a dangerous jump shot with the ability to get to the rim, either off the dribble or moving without the ball. Law scores from all three levels in a similar fashion to Brazdeikis. His averages of 17.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season are slightly higher than the numbers Brazdeikis is putting up but in the same ballpark. In addition to leading their respective teams in scoring so far, Law and Brazdeikis are as close as its gets to prototypical small forwards in the conference.
Similar player under Beilein: Nik Stauskas (2013-2014)
The parallels between Brazdeikis and Stauskas go much deeper than their Lithuanian-Canadian roots. As a sophomore, Stauskas averaged 17.5 points and shot 44.1 percent from three, both within 0.5 percent of where Brazdeikis is right now. Both players didn’t need to dominate the ball to score at an extremely high level and played alongside point guards gifted enough to highlight their strengths. Brazdeikis is already a better off the dribble than Stauskas was when he left Ann Arbor but doesn’t shoot the three nearly as often. Stauskas took 5.2 per game over his two seasons as a Wolverine and Brazdeikis is averaging 3.0 3-point attempts through nine games.