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What would Michigan State basketball look like with and without Jaden Akins?

Jaden Akins could still enter his name into the NBA draft.

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Michigan State basketball
© Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State basketball fans are still patiently waiting to see if Jaden Akins will enter his name into the NBA draft.

There is no doubt that there is hype surrounding the 2023-24 Michigan State basketball team, and that hype is deserved.

If you look at who Michigan State has coming back, this could be one of the best teams in the country. The Spartans will have a senior Tyson Walker, a senior Malik Hall, a senior AJ Hoggard, and possibly a junior Jaden Akins. The keyword in that sentence is “possibly” because as of right now, Akins is the only player that has not said whether or not he is coming back.

We have seen some discussion about if Akins will be back or will not. Does anyone know if he will besides himself? No, but thinking forward to how this Michigan State team could look with or without him is fun and that is exactly what we are going to do with a few different situations.

Scenario 1: Jaden Akins is back

This is the scenario all Michigan State basketball fans want. What would this mean for Michigan State if this happens? This would mean a lot because, with Akins, I don’t think you can find many starting fives that would be better than Michigan State’s. You could maybe say Duke, Marquette, or UConn but that is a very good starting five with Hoggard, Walker, Akins, Malik Hall or Xavier Booker, and most likely Mady Sissoko. This is the starting five that Michigan State fans have been looking forward to since the announcements of Tyson and Malik.

While a lot of people may rather have Joey Hauser back at the four, I don’t think that is realistic. This is a team that has a mix of veterans and young talent and one that could be very fun and very good next year if Jaden announces he is back.

Scenario 2: Jaden Akins not at MSU, Izzo hits portal

Scenario 2 is the one that I see as the least likely to happen and this would be Akins leaving and Tom Izzo getting an experienced player out of the portal. While losing Akins would hurt, getting an experienced player would help the team in this scenario. That experienced player will probably not replace the production that Akins would have because the likelihood that it’s one of the top transfers left in the portal is low.

Now with that being said, having an experienced player to come into place Akins would not force Izzo to start one of the young freshmen if he doesn’t think they are ready. This would allow MSU to keep its depth but the starting five probably wouldn’t be as good in this scenario.

Scenario 3: Jaden Akins not at MSU, Izzo doesn’t hit portal

Scenario 3 is the most realistic in my opinion if Akins leaves via the transfer portal or the NBA. This scenario is where Izzo doesn’t get a transfer and most likely starts Xavier Booker at the four and Malik at the three. This would be a very interesting lineup because there is quite a bit of potential here.

While that starting five might not be better than the first two scenarios, if Booker can grow throughout the season and become the type of player some think he can, this could turn into a starting five that is better than Scenario 2. The only issue with this option is you’re most likely forcing a freshman to start which would hurt the depth some.

All 3 of these scenarios can happen. Would I blame Akins for leaving? Not at all. Would I want Jaden back as much as every MSU fan? Yes, I would. Again, we don’t know what exactly is going to happen. The question of what he is going to do will be answered soon. This answer will impact the team next year.

If Akins comes back, this is going to be a very fun team. If he doesn’t, this will still be a fun team. While in each of those situations, it would be a fun team, I’m hoping Akins comes back for another year, which will (hopefully) lead to Izzo and MSU on a run to get title No. 2.

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