Hubert Davis has some decisions to make. The 2021-22 season just ended, but expectations for next year are mounting for North Carolina basketball. The hype machine will run all offseason for with one of the deepest rosters in the country.
Four starters return, including All-ACC center Armando Bacot, along with several key reserves. As a promising 2022 recruiting class arrives in Chapel Hill, Davis will have plenty of basketball talent at his disposal. The challenge becomes finding the same type of blend that carried this team in March-April 2022.
- 2021-22 per game: 13.5 points, 3.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds
- 2021-22 shooting slash: 42.5 FG%, 46.9 2P%, 36.7 3P%, 83.3 FT%
- 2021-22 advanced metrics: 20.3% usage rate, 19.5% assist rate, 1.30 points per spot-up possession, 0.80 points per pick-and-roll possession
- 2021-22 per game: 16.5 points, 3.6 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 6.6 3PA
- 2021-22 shooting slash: 37.1 FG%, 38.0 2P%, 36.0 3P%, 86.3 FT%
- 2021-22 advanced metrics: 25.4% usage rate, 19.5% assist rate, 1.09 points per spot-up possession, 0.68 pointer per pick-and-roll possession
- 2021-22 per game: 4.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.9 steals
- 2021-22 shooting slash: 46.6 FG%, 53.7 2P%, 33.3 3P%, 86.8 FT%
- 2021-22 advanced metrics: 10.0% usage rate, 14.8% assist rate, 2.3% block rate, 62.5 FG% on cuts, 1.0 points per spot-up possession
- 2021-22 per game: 3.1 points, 2.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists
- 2021-22 shooting slash: 45.9 FG%, 62.9 2P%, 23.1 3P%, 72.2 FT%
- 2021-22 advanced metrics: 14.2% usage rate, 7.7% assist rate, 4.8% turnover rate, 69.2 2P% at the rim, 0.70 points per spot-up possession
- 2021-22 per game: 16.3 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.5 assists
- 2021-22 shooting slash: 56.9 FG%, 57.7 2P%, 12.5 3P%, 67.0 FT%
- 2021-22 advanced metrics: 25.0% usage rate, 29.9% defensive rebound rate, 14.9% offensive rebound rate, 5.2% block rate, 0.97 points per post-up possession, 56.4 FG% on put-back attempts, 66.7 FG% on cuts
- Seth Trimble
- 4-star Guard
- ESPN: No. 46
- 247 Sports: No. 27
- 4-star Guard
- Kerwin Walton
- 2021-22 per game: 3.4 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.4 assists
- 2021-22 shooting slash: 37.3 FG%, 40.5 2P%, 35.4 3P%, 100 FT% (7-of-7 FTA)
- 2021-22 advanced metrics: 13.5% usage rate, 0.55 points per spot-up possession, 1.44 points per off-screen possession
- D’Marco Dunn
- 2021-22 per game: 1.0 points, 0.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists
- 2021-22 shooting slash: 29.0 FG%, 37.5 2P%, 20.0 3P%, 33.3 FT% (1-of-3 FTA)
- 2021-22 advanced metrics: 19.0% usage rate, 12.7% assist rate, 19.2% turnover rate
- Dontrez Styles
- 2021-22 per game: 2.0 points, 1.4 rebounds
- 2021-22 shooting slash: 43.6 FG%, 56.8 2P%, 16.7 3P%, 53.3 FT%
- 2021-22 advanced metrics: 19.6% usage rate, 2.1% assist rate, 19.5% defensive rebound rate, 7.1% offensive rebound rate
- Justin McKoy
- 2021-22 per game: 1.0 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists
- 2021-22 shooting slash: 22.2 FG%, 20.8 2P%, 25.0 3P%, 80 FT%
- 2021-22 advanced metrics: 13.9% usage rate, 15.2% defensive rebound rate, 26.4% effective shooting rate, 25.4% turnover rate
- Will Shaver
Chart It Out: Hubert Davis has options
Here’s a look at all 13 players for North Carolina.
- 1) RJ Davis / Caleb Love / Seth Trimble
- 2) Love / Trimble / Kerwin Walton / D’Marco Dunn
- 3) Leaky Black / Dontrez Styles / Walton / Tyler Nickel
- 4) Puff Johnson / Styles / Justin McKoy
- 5) Armando Bacot / Jalen Washington / Will Shaver
- How this team replaces Brady Manek will ultimately set determine its high-end outcomes. During the 2021-22 season, Manek was such an integral player for UNC’s offense — as both a play-finisher and a connector.
- Not only did Manek help open the floor for Bacot and Love, he also worked as an important hi-lo hub for Armando Bacot in the paint. Manek’s movement shooting and passing amplified everything North Carolina did in the half-court.
- Puff Johnson has a tremendous opportunity, but he’ll need to make a leap as a shooter. It’s too much to ask him to, alone, replace Manek’s shooting and spacing; however, with Hubert Davis pulling the strings on offense, UNC will scheme up ways to help a younger generation of player find success in the offense. Incoming freshman Tyler Nickel has upside as a shooter, too. He could really help this roster.
- By the end of the season, the lineup of Davis-Love-Black-Manek-Bacot played 625 minutes together, the most of any ACC lineup. North Carolina was +268 in those minutes, according to Pivot Analysis. This includes a net rating of +26.1 points per 100 possessions. (Offensive rating: 121.1 points per 100 possessions)
- If you remove Manek from the configuration, though, the quartet of Davis, Love, Black and Bacot played 158 minutes together. During those minutes, UNC was -9, with an offensive rating of 108.2 points per 100 possession.
- Puff Johnson played 30 minutes with Davis, Love, Black and Bacot. UNC was +13 in those minutes, per Pivot Analysis.
UNC with RJ Davis/Love/Leaky/Manek + Bacot on the floor, per Pivot Analysis: +269 in 575 minutes
According to Evan Miya's data: this is now the most-played lineup in the ACC this season
A look at the team 7 lineups in the ACC (300+ possessions) in terms of adjusted efficiency pic.twitter.com/lxztS5JIhH
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) March 28, 2022
- What the Tar Heels lose with Manek’s departure they may be able to make up with a more versatile, switch-friendly roster.
- With Leaky Black, Dontrez Styles and Johnson, UNC returns three players between 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8, all listed above 200 pounds, too. On defense, North Carolina could switch more frequently; this would allow UNC to keep the ball in front and play no-middle coverages when Bacot is brought into the action. Alternatively, UNC could look to defend actions — when Johnson, Styles and Black are the screen defender — by amping up the pressure: hedge, show, trap.
- Regardless, this could unlock added scheme versatility. If UNC plays like a Top 20-25 defense next year, this team will win a lot of games; even without Manek, the offense will score a lot of points.
- Additionally, if Davis and UNC deploy more wing-heavy lineups, it’ll create pathways for Kerwin Walton to get on the floor more. This feels like a possible hinge point for North Carolina’s roster: the most simple way to replace Manek’s shooting — unlock freshman year Kerwin Walton. (Everyone needs to remember: he was arguably the best shooter in the ACC as a freshman.) This can be achieved while keeping the RJ Davis-Love backcourt on the floor, too.
- If UNC’s staff is willing to sacrifice some size/defense, they could play lineups with Walton as the de facto 3, along with Davis and Love in the backcourt, Bacot at 5 and one of the wings at the 4.
- These lineups would allow UNC to have three shooters on the floor, at least two ball handlers and Bacot in the middle. In theory, this is the same balance as the 2021-22 season, albeit with some obvious differences.
- Black improved as a shooter this season, so he, too, could alleviate some of the perimeter shooting concerns. However, Hubert Davis was able to use Black as an off-ball screener in the half-court offense this season, as a way to counter opponents that sagged off the veteran wing.
- The 2021-22 season didn’t go well for Walton; he was one of the few players on the roster that didn’t experience a noticeable improvement. He has his issues on defense, but it was wild to see how little equity he had by the end of the season.
- However, the fact that Walton slumped and saw his spot in the rotation diminished but decided to stay in Chapel Hill speaks to a few different things. One, the program’s culture remains strong. Two, Walton trusts this coaching staff to revitalize his stock. Three, Walton is ready to improve defensively, thus justifying added playing time.