With the 2020-2021 Michigan State men’s basketball season over, we will take individual looks at how each Spartan performed over the course of the year.
In our 10th edition of the series, Malik Hall gets his grade for last season. Many people expected him to take a big step up as a sophomore, yet the versatile forward mostly treaded water.
Averages per game: 17.5 minutes, 5.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.2 blocks, 48.9% fields goal percentage, 36.4% three point percentage, 69.5% free throw percentage
Malik Hall once again proved that he is a very versatile player who is capable to help the team in many different ways. He mainly saw playing time as a power forward and provided the best defensive performance of any big man not named Marcus Bingham Jr. Hall has a strong lower body, good instincts and is a tough competitor even while being a little short for the position. Due to his powerful legs, Hall usually is hard to score against in the post and even bigger players at times struggle to back him down. His toughness comes in handy on the boards as well, where he showed a good nose for the ball and the willingness to throw his body around. Hall truly is a good rebounder who constantly makes his presence felt on the glass.
Offensively, Hall improved his outside shooting statistically and remained a dangerous stretch option just like he did during his freshman year. Whenever he got the ball in the post, he showed tremendous upside and a variety of moves. Low block scoring looks to come natural to him and he does a good job of finishing inside against taller players. Hall also gets to the line regularly. After being a reserve to begin the season, he started nine of the last 12 games. Joey Hauser actually lobbied for Hall to take his starting spot, proving how respected Hall is by his teammates. Hall also did a great job reducing his foul rate to a fraction of what it was at the beginning of his career.
All the good things that Hall did in 2021 he already showed as a freshman, save maybe some nuances here and there. The big question was where was the development? Many penciled Hall in to play major minutes this season, maybe even challenging for a starting spot at the beginning of the year. It happened late, but overall there wasn’t enough consistency or enough true bright spots in Hall’s game that really would have made him a game-changer. He was caught in a situation many “tweeners” face and basically never really got comfortable in his role for this Spartans team. He is too short to really make a bigger impact inside, yet his heavy feet and lack of lateral quickness make it hard to play him constantly on the perimeter. While he has a lot of value in either role (for example, his shooting or his post up game) his shortcomings prevent him from really taking advantage of the potential mismatches he could present.
Defensively, Hall is pretty advanced for his age, but lacks the size to challenge opponents at the rim. At times he seemed to lose confidence and you rarely had the impression that he was truly challenging for more and a bigger role for himself. Everything was right in front of him as other players struggled mightily, yet he did not really take advantage of his opportunities.
Malik Hall brings tremendous traits to the table, there’s no question about it. It’s up to him and the coaching staff now to make use of those skills more often. Finding a clearer role would surely benefit him, yet he also has to be more aggressive. He has to find a way to distance himself from similar teammates by evolving into a more complete player who brings it every night. If he doesn’t do that, he will still be a tremendously versatile player who would help any team he suits up for.
OVERALL SEASON GRADE