Best Mountain West Players For 21-22 Season

Best Mountain West Players For 21-22 Season

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Best Mountain West Players For 21-22 Season

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6. Justin bean, Utah State – 11.4 Pts, 7.7 rebs, 1.9 asts

Justin Bean is the poster child for players whose games are built on hustle. It seems every game the announcers mention how he started as a walk-on and became a starter for some of the best teams the conference has seen the last few years. He was a second team all conference performer last season and kept up his versatile play style. At 6’7”, 210 lbs, he can guard most anyone in the conference. His rebounding numbers dropped from two seasons ago, but that’s to be expected when playing next to a healthy Neemias Queta. He is still one of the better rebounders in the conference, although David Roddy is competing for the title of “best rebounder.” Bean is also disruptive defensively, finishing 9th in steals per game last season.

His largest improvement came on the offensive end. In the past Bean was a pure hustle player. He’d finish dump offs and hit layups when rolling to the basket. Last season he added a midrange game. It was good enough that Bean often had plays drawn up for him out of timeouts and clock stoppage situations. He also added some off the dribble ability as well, and is more able to attack from the perimeter than previous seasons. 

The question about Bean this upcoming season relates to his role. He’s been great as a second or third option his whole career, playing alongside stars like Sam Merrill and Neemias Queta. Can he be the best player on a championship team? Probably not, but time will tell.

5. Nathan Mensah, San Diego State – 8.1 Pts, 6.1 rebs, 0.6 asts

Nathan Mensah should be the preseason favorite for defensive player of the year. Other players like David Muoka may make things difficult, but it’s Nathan’s to lose. He’s played 75 games, or about 2 ½ seasons. Despite that, he’s prevented the 5th most points in the conference dating back to 2011. 2 time DPOY Neemias Queta ranks 9th since 2011 in the same measure (in 11 more games.) The all-time block leader in the conference, Skylar Spencer, ranks 10th in 144 games. If Mensah keeps up his current pace he’ll be the leader after this season, and still have a year of eligibility left. He’s also the leading returner in D-PIPM, almost 2 points better than the next closest player.

To top it off, he was second among returning players in defensive win shares. Maybe advanced analytics aren’t you’re thing though. That’s ok. He was second in the conference in blocks, as his 7’5 wingspan lets him swat balls easily. He was the anchor for the 21st best defense in the country according to KenPom. If you want tape, watch how he frustrated Queta in the MW tournament championship game. All signs point to Mensah being the favorite for DPOY. 

Offensively he’s more limited. He’s very athletic, and that lets him finish lobs and dumpoffs easily. He’ll even occasionally hit a jumper from the elbow. He’s not a player that will draw many double teams in the post. He’ll get the Aztecs a couple easy baskets, and take away easy opportunities from his opponents. 

4. Isaiah Stevens, Colorado State – 15.3 Pts, 4.3 rebs, 5.4 asts 

An argument can be made that Isaiah Stevens is the best Point guard in the conference. He finished 9th in points per game and 2nd in assists per game in the conference last season. He was also really efficient, finishing 4th in eFG%. He was more efficient than 81% of all players in the Pick and Roll when including passes. He finished 9th in the conference in PIPM. He’s coming off a season where he shot 42.7% from behind the arc. If he has a flaw offensively, it’s that he doesn’t draw much contact, but that’s being really nitpicky. He could also cut down on the turnovers a bit, but players who run the offense are bound to have more turnovers than others.

Stevens’ game could be improved on the defensive side. He’s not bad by any means, he’s just average. He does his job, but isn’t very disruptive and doesn’t lock opponents down. In general he’s not needed to lock players down because he carries the offense, but to take the leap into the highest echelon he’ll either need to play with god-like efficiency or improve on the defensive side of the ball.

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