Missouri’s ceiling is lower now that Michael Dixon has left the program

Whether or not Missouri handled the Michael Dixon saga properly is something that has sparked plenty of discussion in recent days.

The one aspect that's not debatable, however, is how much the Tigers will miss the senior guard on the court.

Dixon announced Thursday he's leaving school on the same day as newspapers in the state uncovered a second documented allegation of rape against him. Dixon is not expected to face criminal charges in either case because the evidence is insufficient, but Missouri had suspended him indefinitely since the start of the season and he was likely to face further punishment from the school had he remained there.

While Dixon's departure eliminates a distraction and ensures ample playing time will be available to other members of Missouri's crowded backcourt, the Tigers don't have anyone who can duplicate what the senior did best.

Dixon, who averaged 13.5 points per game and was voted national sixth man of the year by some media outlets, would have started this year and likely emerged as Missouri's top perimeter threat.

Without him, the Tigers do not have another guard who can ease the pressure on Phil Pressey by handling the ball, running the offense and creating for his teammates off the dribble. They also don't have another player besides Pressey who's a consistent outside shooter, something Dixon would have brought.

If there's a silver lining for the Tigers, they do get bigger by not starting the 6-foot-1 Dixon alongside the pint-sized Pressey. Keion Bell, Earnest Ross and Negus Webster-Chan are all 6-foot-4 and above and can all get to the rim, but they aren't as adept creating for others as Dixon and none of them are shooting above 35 percent from 3-point range.

Nobody but Dixon and his accusers will ever truly know what happened between them, but Missouri acted appropriately suspending him indefinitely and probably could have taken the extra step of dismissing him before he announced he was leaving. Regardless, the new reality for Missouri without Dixon is a lower ceiling than the Tigers otherwise would have had.

They can still finish near the top of the SEC. They can still make the NCAA tournament. Heck, they can probably even win a couple games. But they aren't as good a team without Dixon, and they'll struggle to replace his best attributes.

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