I saw a couple other bold predictions articles floating around and before I read them, I decided to make my own list so I wouldn't be swayed by what was previously written. Remember these predictions are supposed to pretty bold which is why I'd be surprised if I get more three of them right. So without any further ado, here they are.
1. Denzel Valentine leads the team in points, assists, and rebounds
While Valentine was second in all three of those categories last year, Travis Trice and Branden Dawson left leaving Valentine as the returning leader in those three stats. It seems as though Valentine is very likely to lead the team in either points or assists. Rebounds, however, will be much more by committee and the rebounding leader will most likely depend on whether or not one of Matt Costello or Gavin Schilling can get a significant minutes edge over the other to supplant Valentine as the leading rebounder.
2. Matt Costello will make more than 20 three-pointers
Speaking of Matt Costello, one facet to his game that we haven't seen enough of is him shooting from long-range. He's 0-4 in MSU career but there's reason to be optimistic about him shooting more. He was reportedly a good shooter in high school, he looked comfortable making a 3 at the Midnight Madness scrimmage, and he shot 5-12 (41.7%) from deep during the Moneyball Pro-Am this summer (small sample size, I know). Izzo usually gives his bigs a little bit more freedom as upperclassmen when it comes to shooting and this might just be Costello's year. As for making 20 of them, I chose that number because during Adreian Payne's junior year he made 16 despite not making one halfway through the year so that was my baseline.
3. Javon Bess will start at power forward for the majority of the year
The main reason Javon Bess will be starting at power forward during MSU's exhibition game against Northern Michigan is that Marvin Clark got hurt. However, I'm very high on Bess for some reason or another and I think he'll have a great year. From Mike Wilson:
"Javon can do a little bit of everything," Bryn Forbes said. "He’s quick and he can pass the ball, shoot the ball, defend and rebound. He can do a little bit of everything. He’s tough. I love playing with Javon. …
"He’s tougher than a lot of people and I’m expecting a lot from him this year."
I think his ability to be a glue guy in the starting lineup as well as Marvin Clark coming off the bench to score will appeal to Izzo and Bess will retain his starting spot even after Clark returns from injury.
4. MSU will have three all-conference players
Michigan State has had at least two all-conference players since the 2007-08 season. As a consensus pick on the preseason All-B1G team and having been on the third team last year, Valentine appears to be a lock to be one. The difficulty is finding number 2 and 3. The better of Eron Harris and Bryn Forbes is likely to find a place on there, but it's interesting whether or not they'd get both. For that to happen MSU would need to likely finish top 3 and those three players would have to be the clear cut stars on the team. The darkhorse for that third spot would likely be Matt Costello whose potential outside shooting as a center could set him apart from many of the other big men across the conference.
5. Javon Bess will be third in assists behind Valentine and Tum Tum Nairn
I'm admittedly high on Bess and this one is a little out there but hear me out. From what I understand from Bess he's a very high IQ player that'll make the right basketball play for the team. For the most part Bess will be playing against PF's who he will have a quickness advantage over. If he's able to create space on a drive, he can either find an open shooter (MSU has many good 3 point shooting options) or he can find the big on an inside pass. The biggest challengers for third in assists are likely going to be Bryn Forbes and Eron Harris but neither of them have posted an assist rate greater than 11% in their careers (Bess was at 14.5% last year).