Performance Review: Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr.

Impact Izzone will be handing out performance reviews for each Spartan in the following weeks. The series will start with the freshmen and move up the classes. Stay tuned for the rest of our grades! Check out Javon Bess’ performance review here.

2015-16 stats: 18.7 mins, 2.8 PPG, 3.3 AST, 37.9% FG, 11.1% 3-PT

Blake Froling

Tum Tum Nairn set the bar high for himself coming into this season. He continually talked about the long hours spent in the gym in Wichita, Kansas, hoisting up 500 three-pointers every morning in an effort to improve his stroke. Unfortunately, Spartan fans did not get to see the fruits of his labor.

Nairn was hampered by plantar fasciitis all season, requiring him to miss seven games during the middle of the year and causing him pain that only a few players could play through. Because of this nagging injury, I cannot give Nairn a grade. On the surface, his season was disappointing. The youngest captain since Draymond Green did not make a leap like Green did. Instead, defenses were still able to sag off him and hang in the post whenever he was in the game, essentially giving the Spartans a 4-on-5 disadvantage on offense.

Perimeter shooting? Forget about it. Nairn is now 6-26 (23 percent) from beyond the arc in two seasons. I think it’s time for Spartan fans to give up the notion that Nairn will magically find his stroke and develop into the scoring point guard that Coach Izzo is accustomed to, with players such as Keith Appling, Kalin Lucas and Drew Neitzel. Nairn is a great facilitator and a lockdown defender. If he can at least pretend to have some semblance of a shot, he can take over the point guard reins and steer the Spartans to success.

Final grade: N/A

David Manion

Tum Tum Nairn came to Michigan State University as a man on a mission. He made an immediate and profound impact in his debut as a Spartan by achieving three big things:

  1. Becoming one of the very few true freshmen starting point guards in school history.
  2. Being an efficient and consistent distributor with world class speed.
  3. Having one of if not the best name in all of College Basketball.

Nairn is without a doubt one of the best ball handlers and passers on the MSU squad. He utilized his speed and agility with his 5-10 stature to avoid turnovers, draw defenders out of position, and to fit passes into tight windows. He has the ability to extend the floor and give his teammates probable scoring opportunities with open lanes.

Nairn was once again expected to surpass expectations heading into his Sophomore year. However, things did not go according to plan. It all started with him battling a serious foot injury, plantar fasciitis, in the early stages of the 2015-2016 season. This vastly restricted his playing time and more importantly his impact on the court. He was less explosive which limited his playmaking capabilities, ultimately making him an easy target to overwhelm for opposing defenses.

But what made him even more vulnerable was his inability to shoot. Even going back to his first year, Tum Tum lacked any confidence in his jump shot. Defenders would give him a big cushion when he was outside the paint, showing zero respect for his shooting game. And the majority of the time he would not take the open shot in fear of missing. Ironically, here’s a man who took 500 three point shots every morning last summer to try to establish a shooting rhythm. He failed to translate his stroke over to the games that mattered, as he netted nearly three points per game while hitting just 11% from beyond the arc. It’s hard to take a non-scoring threat like Tum Tum and integrate him in a offense which was the main engine of the team. It’s almost as if the Spartans were playing 4-on-5 when they were crossing the timeline with the ball.

If Tum Tum can increase his confidence by enhancing his shooting mechanics and touch, then we are looking at a dangerously talented player. But he can not be afraid to shoot the ball when given solid looks. This might be a bumpy and lengthy process down the road, yet he will be able to restore his confidence and start to contribute offensively if he can extend his shooting range little by little every game.

Because Nairn was a non factor on a juggernaut offense, he receives a low grade as a result.

Final Grade: D+

 

Davey Segal

As my two colleagues have so eloquently stated above, Tum Tum Nairn Jr. came into this past season with high expectations, to say the least. We were led to believe that he had developed a jump shot, as he practiced for hours on end day after day all summer long. We were also led to believe that he was on the upstart to cementing himself in the annals of Michigan State basketball history, as he was selecting as a team captain as a sophomore. But alas, it was not meant to be.

Nairn Jr.’s season was derailed by injuries. Most notably, plantar fasciitis. Although he only missed seven games, the injury hampered him throughout the second half of the season. He ended up losing his starting position as the point guard for the Spartans. Denzel Valentine ended up becoming the primary ball handler, and Nairn’s minutes decreased steadily.

As Blake said, it’s incredibly tough to grade his season performance. However, I will not let him off the hook (or take the easy road out, COUGH COUGH). As a point guard, your primary objective is to facilitate for your teammates, share the rock, and be able to make shots. Tum Tum Nairn Jr. has proven that he can be a solid player for the Spartans. However, averaging just shy of 20 minutes per game, under three points and four assists per game just isn’t going to cut it.

Next season, health is obviously the primary concern. But as long as the statistics don’t improve, Tom Izzo will have no choice but to bench Nairn Jr., especially with Cassius Winston coming in as a point guard and reigning Mr. Basketball. Don’t get me wrong — I’m one of the biggest Tum Tum fans out there. But the dude has to produce, and he hasn’t done enough of that so far in his college basketball career to be a consistent and reliable starting point guard.

Final Grade: D

 

Ryan Cole

You want to root for a guy like Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. Just look at his name! But once Nairn steps on the floor, he makes it tough to believe in him. Nairn was the only pure point guard on Michigan State this season, but he still struggled to find minutes throughout the year. The Bahaman has always been a defensive stalwart and a transition speedster, but his half-court offensive game leaves much to be imagined. The sophomore’s offensive ineptitude has been well-documented, but it truly has been and will be an issue for Michigan State.

This season, Nairn started the first 18 games on the season for the Spartans before suffering a foot injury. Plantar fasciitis kept him out of the next seven games, but I wonder if that injury had something to do with Nairn’s lack of production in those 18 games. Plantar fasciitis has been known to linger, sometimes for over a year, so it may have played a role in Nairn’s poor jump shooting.

Nairn’s jump shot is by far the biggest weakness in his game. He doesn’t have much experience shooting from long distance, so his conversion rate is quite low. Compounded with a lack of confidence in his shot, you get a player who essentially doesn’t have to be guarded on one end of the court. Teams would often sag off Nairn and move towards other Spartans, daring Tum Tum to shoot. That made it tough for the rest of Tom Izzo’s team to create spacing for their own shots.

On top of that mismatch issue, Nairn’s ugly offensive game forced Denzel Valentine to make a position switch halfway through his All-American season. If Nairn had improved from his freshman year at scoring the basketball (although the injury did play a part), Valentine would have remained at the small forward position all year, the more natural position for him.

Now, Nairn’s shot is actually solid mechanically; there aren’t crazy moving parts like we saw from guys like Branden Dawson. And Tum Tum knows that he needs to work on his shot. He’s always one of the first players in the gym before games. All he needs is repetitions and a boost in confidence. If neither of those come, Nairn could quickly get passed on the depth chart by incoming point guard recruit Cassius Winston, known as more of a scoring threat.

Final Grade: D+