This is my favorite column to write every year. It’s not because I’m a know-it-all who likes to toot my horn(choo-choo mother!) but because the predictions themselves don’t matter. For the most part, I am just creating numbers out of the air and assigning a players probability to hit them. What my intention is isn’t to hit on a certain amount of these, but to find specific trends and themes that I think will take root in upcoming season. The predictions I make will be more about trying to reveal those trends and slides, and then having a little fun with it.
Also, it says these predictions are bold. Literally, they’ll be put into bold print, so even if you find them boring or obvious, they’re still bold. But we’ll try to be fresh.
Let’s get to it.
- Caleb Swanigan will lead the team in minutes per game.
With the news that Jacquil Taylor will be out indefinitely with an ankle injury, there is literally no big man depth at this point. There is Haas and there is Biggie. Caleb is not only the primary back up center now, but the only back up center. He’s just not going to be able to go to the bench. Can he anchor a defense only a year improved from being a complete defensive liability? It’s a lot to ask of the big man, but you could argue that he’s better suited to guard fives than stretch fours.
2. Basil Smotherman will average over 20 mpg in B10 play.
Purdue just doesn’t have the athleticism without Smotherman. He’s looked improved on offense, and he’s a blur in transition. His jump shot should be improved and he provides size and speed that only Vincent is capable of offering. Vincent is going to be asked to do a lot - he’ll once again play the post but when he’s not, he’ll be guarding the more dangerous perimeter assignments. Basil is capable of handling some of those minutes at the four, as well as trying to become the next lock down defender in gold or black. There’s shooting everywhere for Purdue, Basil offers athleticism and size that no one else on the roster does.
3. Purdue will be a top 10 team for offensive efficiency according to kenpom.
Last year’s Purdue squad finished as the 19th most efficient offensive team in the nation. This year’s team will be light year’s better. Ray-D’s hurt knee is gone. Hill’s broken jumper is, too. Hammons was a stud in the post, but Haas’ per minute stats have always been off the charts. He draws fouls and gets easy looks. There’s shooting everywhere. Spike adds a creativity we didn’t have. Carsen is better at getting to the basket than anyone on last year’s team already. Biggie can’t turn over the ball as much as he did last year. Dakota and Cline are still super smart with the ball that will feast on less attention. Vincent fills in all the holes. This is an offensive super nova in the making.
4. Purdue’s defensive efficiency will settle between 18 to 28th best in the nation.
As long as Coach Painter is around and he has a roster of competent players, Purdue should have a good defense. Will it be great? I don’t think so. Hammons has been covering holes for so long, I’m not sure what to make of the defense without him. Our perimeter defenders are still limited, but Purdue is smart. Dakota looks leaner, quicker, and has amazing hands. Length will be a problem for other teams, and Painter will have them playing disciplined help defense.
5. Ryan Cline will not exceed 13 minutes per game.
I could just leave a bunch of sad face emojiis here. I don’t like anything about the suspension. Cline averaged 13.6 minutes a game last year, but he’s rightly in the dog house and Painter occasionally forgets where the back yard is. Cline had an impressive freshman campaign, but he’s still a limited player defensively, and it might just be a case of better options with Dakota, Basil, and CARSEN IS THE TRUTH EDWARDS.
6. Carsen Edwards will shoot less than 34% from 3.
I love CARSEN IS THE TRUTH EDWARDS. I think he’s a once in a Purdue generation talent. I think he does all the things we needed someone to do on last year’s squad. But man, will he chuck it, indiscriminately, without regard to things like distance or space or my heart. He’s actually an excellent shooter, both off and on the dribble, but his go to is to just pull up when a possession gets tough. He’ll improve as the season goes along, but there’s gonna be enough garbage time misses early that will hold his percentage down.
7. Dakota Mathias will lead the team in assists by a full assist or more.
The vision of Dakota running the pick and pop with Biggie at the last intra-squad scrimmage came to me like a drug-induced epiphany. Was it real? Could this really be my Boilers? Living in the world of space, carefully threading passes to one another, finding open man after open man, and laying waste to mismatches while letting play makers play? Dakota will take over more of the ball handling duties is my assumption, and he’ll do it with pick and rolls with Swanigan. He’s always been a too willing passer, but this system will allow for it to be more natural.
8. Purdue will lose to Villanova and Louisville, but win the rest of their non-con.
It’d be great to steal one of the two marquise match-ups, but I don’t think this Purdue team will be ready. There’s experience, but for the most part, the players are stepping into new roles. It will take time for that to coalesce into a really good basketball team. Cline will miss the Villanova game and Taylor’s injury leaves them depleted of bodies before they’re really in basketball shape. Foul trouble will doom them against either of those teams. But Purdue will improve with each week, and finally they should be able to get a win at the Crossroads against Notre Dame. I’ll take that.
9. Purdue will make over 300 3-pointers this year.
From what I’ve gathered, this has never happened in Purdue history. The Boilers made 265 last year, and a couple of the Hummel teams have gotten close, but this is the year. There’s shooting everywhere and the ball should be moving all over the place. Just 32 teams made more than 300 3-pointers last year including Indiana, Michigan, and Michigan St.
10. P. J. Thompson will make over 45% of his 3’s.
P. J. was a revelation last year from deep. He went from shooting 28% his freshman year to hitting 41% last year. He’s stayed hot all off-season, looking more and more confident to hit trey after trey. He’s gonna have plenty of open looks in an offense he’s more than comfortable moving around in.
11. Caleb Swanigan will lead the B10 in turnovers.
There’s two facets to this: First, Biggie is sloppy with the ball and his footwork. Second, he’s gonna be an even bigger focal point of the offense this year. I think he’ll be better, but there’s a large room between better than he was with the ball last year and him being protective of it. He still wants to move his feet before he dribbles, and he still gets himself into too many contested areas on the floor. He’ll also be taxed from being the one versatile big on the roster, and it’ll be easy to forgive a sloppy pass or bad dribble every now and again from sheer tired.
12. Purdue will go into Bloomington with a two game lead in the B10.
Purdue’s conference schedule broke out pretty nicely for the Boilers. Their toughest match-up against Wisconsin is at home against a Badgers team that Purdue matches up well against. If they’re able to take one of the road games against Ohio State or Michigan State, they should be in the driver’s seat as they head to play their arch rival for the first of two match-ups late in the year.
13. Isaac Haas will average between 23-25 minutes a game and score 13 points a game.
Haas actually played less last year than his freshman campaign. He’s played 14.6 minutes per game and 14.3, but is now entrenched as the only true center on the roster. However, he’s still a match up concern against athletic teams and prone to foul trouble. But when he’s in, he’s gonna be the focal point of the offense. Alone on the inside, with shooters all around him, he’s going to get plenty chances to score, but can Painter trust his rim protection? If Haas isn’t turning people away at the rim, his lack of mobility and spacing could be an issue for the offense. Haas still struggles to pass out of double teams in the post.
14. Vincent Edwards will score less this year.
Vincent’s adaptability and versatility has always been his biggest strengths. He’s so smart on the court that he seems to not even need to see a teammate to know when and where they’re open. He’s going to blend into this offense, grab a rebound here, knock down an open shot when it’s there, and he’ll step back from his 11.3 points a game last year. Purdue’s offense is more balanced this year, Vincent won’t have to make magic happen as often. Purdue can rely on mismatches, and expect Vincent to get the other team’s best defender whenever they can.
15. Spike won’t reach double figures scoring during B10 play.
Spike has improved his shot - he’s gotten rid of the hitch he used to have - but Painter didn’t bring him in to light up the scoreboard. What Spike does is control an offense. He’s as creative a passer as we’ve had, and that will be his role in a crowded back court. He’s not the shooter P. J. is. He’s not the athlete Carsen is. He’s a steady hand with a deft touch, and he’ll use the litany of shooters and skilled big men around him, moving like a queen over the chess board to draw attention before dumping the ball off for a layup or open 3. He’s just not going to get the run against the elite athletes or take enough shots to score against the big boys, and Purdue should be fine with that.
That’s fifteen. We’ll have another 15 for you tomorrow - I’ll be bringing in the panel to make some guest predictions again.