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Jaxon Kohler Injury a Reminder on the Importance of Depth

After a pre-season full of hand wringing over too many talented players in the rotation, a potential key player will now miss the start of the season.

Syndication: Lansing State Journal Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State men’s basketball Forward Jaxon Kohler is reportedly going to miss the start of the 2023-2024 season. The Sophomore was one of six players to play in all 36 games last year. Expectations had been on the rise for Kohler’s contributions this year after an off season that featured a new physique and some exciting play during Moneyball.

After reportedly receiving foot surgery in Charlotte, North Carolina, Kohler is expected to be out until at least Christmas. The 6’9” forward was expected to fight for minutes at the center spot with Senior Maddy Sissoko and fellow Sophomore Carson Cooper.

The Spartan men’s squad is stacked this year. After only losing Joey Hauser to graduation (and a 2-way contract in the NBA), the team returns almost all of its minutes from last year while adding a quartet of highly touted freshmen. Even with one of those freshmen, Gehrig Normand, expected to be on the outside of the core rotation this year, it meant 11-players were vying for serious time on the floor. Now that appears to be just ten players for at least the first third of the season.

Fans are concerned about the impact this injury will have on the team in terms of depth and talent in the front court. The irony of this is that prior to the injury, the concern most voiced by the fan base was how coach Tom Izzo would work in so many talented players.

Michigan State is blessed with the rare mix of experienced leaders and talented newcomers. Having 11-12 players that could legitimately challenge for time is a luxury most teams do not have. After answering an off season of questions about how he will deal with this plethora of talent, it will be odd to see Tom Izzo answer concerns about depth.

Michigan State’s roster this year is set up to be able to handle a few injuries. In theory, every single starter for this year’s squad has a backup that could easily play 20+ minutes a game.

The versatility of some of this year’s players means many are able to move anywhere from the 2 to the 4 spot, or switch between the four and the five regularly (or if you’re Malik Hall theoretically cover from the 2 to the 5 spot). This will give Michigan State a ton of options in cases of injury.

In the case of Jaxon Kohler, the surgery is clearly a disappointing setback for him as a player. The team should be fine in the period he is out. If he can join the team a third of the way in and make a difference it will be welcome, if not crucial.