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 Matt Costello’s performance review here.
2015-16 stats: 28.0 mins, 14.4 PPG, 48.1% FG, 48.1% 3PT FG, 84.0% FT
Streaky shooting and bad defense pretty much summed up Bryn Forbes’ junior season. MSU fans knew Forbes was a three-and-d guy, minus the d, and that was ok. Well, maybe not to Coach Izzo. Izzo got on Forbes hard, publically and privately, mentioning repeatedly how good shooters never want to play defense. Forbes got the message loud and clear and the difference was astounding.
Forbes went from an absolute liability on defense, so much so that he was benched at times, to being one of the more reliable defenders on the team. Oh yeah, and he was No. 7 in three-pointers made (108) and three-point percentage (48.4 percent) in the nation. Not often does a player’s three-point shooting volume go up by 29 percent from a year ago and his shooting percentage also go up by six percent. It should be the other way around.
However, there will always be a glaring black mark on Forbes’ permanent record: the final four games of his career. They ended with much less fanfare than they should have. In three games in the Big Ten Tournament, Forbes averaged just over seven points per game and shot 23 percent from beyond the arc. MSU won the tournament despite Forbes. The last game of Forbes’ career is well-documented. Sure, he hit four threes, but his team lost to No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee State.
Four games should not define a career, but these four taint his.
Final Grade: A-
Forbes knew he needed to have the best season of his college career (at Michigan State) if the Spartans wanted to succeed. He came in continuing his strongest skill: shooting and making three-pointers. As Blake mentioned above, to increase your three-point percentage by a whopping six percentage points is unbelievable.
If you looked up the phrase “come off a screen to catch and shoot and make a three-pointer”, Bryn Forbes would embody it. Yes, it’s a strange and long phrase, but you get my point. It seemed that at least 50 percent of his deep balls came off a screen on the elbow for the Spartans. Nothing was prettier for MSU than seeing that net swish after a Forbes three.
However, he was the key (MAJOR KEY) for Michigan State, and nobody really even knew it. Whenever Forbes was cold, MSU lost. Whenever Forbes was somewhat warm, MSU won. Whenever Forbes was hot, MSU dominated handily. And that proved dividends in the final four games like Blake talked about. Most notably against Middle Tennessee State.
Giddy Potts, who was the only player in the nation to be more lethal from three-point range than Forbes, got the better of him, and proved dividends as MSU’s season was done prematurely. With that being said, Forbes’ numbers don’t lie. As the widely regarded second-best player on the team, the Cleveland State transfer and now San Antonio Spur had a great career in the green and white. I think he’ll fit in just fine under Gregg Popovich.
Final Grade: A
Did you know Bryn Forbes and Denzel Valentine were high school teammates? Sorry to sound like every play-by-play man in the sport, but I really believe the bond between Forbes and Valentine helped push the Spartans to new heights this year. It may not have been the ending they wanted, but Forbes was huge in setting Michigan State up for success.
Fans quickly forgot that Tom Izzo called Forbes the “MVP” of the summer when the team traveled to Italy and played professional teams. The former transfer from Cleveland State didn’t offer much game outside of his shooting ability, but man, he could shoot. Forbes sunk just under half of his three-point attempts, an absurd amount at any level of basketball. He was a lights-out shooter his junior year, but in his senior year, he stepped up just as Izzo requires of his seniors. Forbes became one of the two most feared marksmen in all of college basketball–the other being Buddy Hield.
But I have to knock Forbes’s grade down a bit due to his lackluster performances in the Spartans’ losses. In Michigan State’s six losses, Forbes shot 26 percent and averaged under 7 PPG, compared to 51 percent and 16 PPG in wins. The teams that beat the Spartans surely had Forbes at the top of their scouting reports. Had the Lansing native even stepped up his game a hair in each of those losses, the Spartans may have stolen a few of those contests–the one-point loss at Purdue comes to mind–and ended up as a No. 1 seed, avoiding hotshot Middle Tennessee State. *Sigh* what could have been.
Final Grade: B+
When I found out in 2014 that the Spartans acquired transfer Bryn Forbes from Cleveland State, I didn’t think much of him. He was a scrawny shooting guard on one of the most storied basketball programs seeking success on the biggest stage in college basketball. He did not belong one the Big Ten level in late 2014, as he constantly threw up bricks and subpar ball handling skills, while displaying James Harden like defense.
But he really picked up steam in the second half his junior season. Forbes found his shooting groove with his excellent technique and started to play much better defense. His free throw percentage went up as well and he established his presence by making a huge impact on offense. He had a brilliant performance in the 2015 NCAA tournament and returned to MSU for his senior season hungry for a championship.
It would have been nice to see him be more aggressive by driving to the hoop, but he stuck with his identity. But he was really more of a catch and shoot type of player. Forbes was shot out of a canon around every pick set up for him and he would usually hit the shot, wide open or contested.
He may not have been the most indispensable player on the Spartan squad, but he was by far the biggest deal breaker. His performance would determine the outcomes of games. They usually won whenever he was an offensive force. However, Sparty usually came up short when he was ice cold.
Forbes is going to be a major asset in the NBA if he can maintain his rhythm. But he needs to find consistency in his game to get solid playing time and possibly a starting spot in his rookie year.
Final Grade: A-