Since his freshman year, Branden Dawson has been somewhat of a “what if?”
What if this physical freak can figure out how to score at the college level?
What if he can find a jump shot? (Still up for debate).
Well now the question is “What if this is what we’ve been waiting for?”
I predicted early on in the season that Dawson would be good this year. I also predicted that he would not be the “x-factor” that many predicted. I didn’t write this as an “I told ya so” article though. (But I did tell you).
The point of this is to show that Dawson has reached where we all thought he could be and he could be even better. Dawson currently averages a double-double per game and I don’t know if most Spartan fans would know it. It’s because of how Dawson plays.
Dawson is on a tear unlike anything we’ve ever seen from him. He has five double-doubles in his past seven games and looks more confident than ever. He willingly lets fall away jumpers fly over taller defenders. He plays within himself for the most part and is having his best statistical and defensive season yet.
He’s probably not going to be the dominant, square up and regularly beat guys one on one type of player. He’s most comfortable in amongst the trees. Usually battling with guys four or five inches taller than him for boards and very often winning.
Perhaps more impressively, his offense is pedestrian when compared to his defense. He has the third best defensive rating in the Big Ten this year according to Sports Reference. Unfortunately it’s extremely difficult to quantify defensive prowess on an individual player basis but anyone who watched Dawson guard Penn State’s DJ Newbill, the conference’s leading scorer, down the stretch this year knows how good Dawson has been.
So is this what we’ve been waiting for? Yes and no.
Statistically this is exactly where one would expect Dawson to be at this juncture. There was no doubt he could average a double-double per night. The defense is surprising only because of how good it is. Once again, I wish I could give more but it just has to be witnessed.
The no arrives because now I want more. Dawson has met expectations and proved that those expectations were impossibly low. If he develops a consistent jump shot and regains his soft touch around the rim, he could easily finish the season averaging somewhere around 16 points and 12 rebounds per game.
So this isn’t the Brandon Dawson we expected. He’s better. And now we have a month to see how much better he can be.
Andrew Hayes is the host of Impact Izzone and a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports