It’s clearly way to early to make assessments on where players are only 4 months removed from Duke’s last game, a loss to Kansas in the Elite 8 and still 2 months away from Countdown to Craziness (Duke’s annual team introduction and scrimmage). We can however look at how Duke performed in their 3 Canadian exhibition games and make some notations on what needs to improve from that early abridged look. Here is a player by player analysis.
Zion Williamson – Williamson showed an array of skills in his 3 game debut, obviously against lesser talent but clearly the ability to dunk the basketball is a tool but not the entirety of his game. After shooting 3 or 4 from 3 point range in the first game his shooting tailed off in the subsequent games. If his jump shot from range and mid-range becomes a consistent weapon then Williamson will get many more opportunities in the lane as defenses will have to respect each facet of his game. In totality over 3 games Williamson shot 64.5% from the field and 33% from the 3 point line. Williamson also must become a better free throw shooter, he should see a good amount of opportunities at the free throw line and will need to convert higher than the 50% he shot in Canada. Williamson will also need to improve on his 10 to 8 assist to turnover ratio, after having 4 assists and no turnovers in the first outing. The freshmen committed 4 turnovers in each of the following games.
Cam Reddish – Health. A healthy Reddish brings the Duke perimeter game to a new level and his ability to shoot from beyond the arc, if as advertised, will be key to opening things up for other offensive sets and situation.
Tre Jones – Health. Jones could be Dukes most important player and if he can come back strong from his hip surgery and be what he’s been throughout his playing career it should boost the play of the Duke bigs. His ability to penetrate could open up easy opportunities for the Duke big men. Jones also possesses a mid-range game that is far beyond the other players on the roster. Jones could make the game much easier for his teammates if he can stay healthy.
R.J. Barrett – Barrett like his freshmen mate Williamson showed a lot of versatility on the court. He was very ball dominant and averaged 30.6 points per game in the 3 game series. After shooting only 40% in the first game, Barrett shot 50% or over in the next 2. Shot selection was a bit of an issue for the Canadian freshmen who, a few times, drove into the teeth of a collapsing defense. In a show of how coaching can benefit a player like Barrett his assist to turnover ration increased from game to game. Barrett went from 2 assists and 5 turnovers in game 1, to 3 assists and 4 turnovers in game 2 and ended on a high note of 10 assists to 3 turnovers in the finale. He, like Zion will need to increase his efficiency from beyond the arc as well as from the charity stripe. Barrett was only 28.5% effective from 3 point range, but seemed to do better when he took shots in rhythm. Foul shooting, however, was an issue in all games – Barrett only shot above 50% from the free throw line in one of the 3 games.
Joey Baker – Joey Baker only say 9 minutes of action in the first outing against Ryerson but as junior center Marques Bolden saw his floor minutes decrease, Baker picked up the extra shine on the court. Baker took advantage of the extra time and shot 5 of 11 from 3 point range in the final 3 games (45.5%). It still has been undecided as to whether Baker will redshirt this season but it was clear that perimeter wise he could help Duke in the 3 point shooting department. Defensively, Baker is still a bit of an unknown but the freshmen seems to move well laterally and his size could be an asset for this years team.