I cannot recall a year where I have been more excited for Duke Basketball. Grayson Allen staying, Amile getting his redshirt, this class coming in… what more could you possibly ask for? Oh, and one of the best coaches in the history of the game. Coming off of a season with minimal depth, K now faces a refreshing problem of minute distribution. Here is my starting five ***assuming Giles is at 100% health*** (This is a big assumption):
The Starting Five:
Out of all the freshman, Frank Jackson is the one I am most excited to see. He reminds me of a more polished version of freshman Grayson Allen with his athleticism and shooting ability. This guy has got to see major minutes. Him and Grayson together in the backcourt is flat out terrifying, especially when you see the other guys joining them on the floor. The only question with Frank is his distributing ability. Following the transfer of point guard Derryck Thornton, Duke is lacking a true point guard, but Frank Jackson has the ability to fill the void. Once this backcourt learns to work together, there isn’t much that can stop them.
Grayson’s numbers last year were absurd, shooting 41.7% from distance, and scoring 21.6 ppg with 4.6 rpg. Thankfully, I wouldn’t expect to see the same numbers this year. The depth on this team is eye-opening, giving K plenty of options unlike last year. Allen should be on the court most of the game but won’t be relied upon nearly as much as last year with playmakers to his left and right. Trust me, this is a very, very good thing. Allen should be in for another huge season, but the focus will be on the W’s this year as opposed to the individual stats. Not enough can be said about Grayson’s decision to turn down the NBA to return to Cameron. He is emerging as a Laettner-esque legend in Durham.
Tatum is an incredibly polished scorer. He has a smooth stroke from mid-range with pretty good size. The Devils have options all over the court this year, and this guy will be in the middle of it. He reminds me of Brandon Ingram in that he is a bit thin and will have to adjust to the physicality of the game, but is extremely skilled with the ball. However, he won’t be forced to play the 4 very often like Ingram was because of the frontcourt depth. Expect him to excel like so many have under K at the stretch three position.
Ladies and gentlemen, the glue-guy is back in Bull City. Amile will be a huge piece to this young Duke team. His defensive abilities and rebounding skills will be crucial to the team’s success. Amile will likely rotate with Giles, Javin, Bolden, Jeter, and potentially Obi in that 4-5 role on the team, although some Duke practice footage has indicated that he may be playing more of a Draymond Green role on the team this year. If Bolden can prove his hype at the next level, I could see Giles shifting to the four and Bolden swapping with Amile in the starting lineup later on in the year. However, I would be surprised if Amile is not including in the opening game starting five.
When Giles is healthy, he is simply an animal. He is nearly 6’11’’ with guard-like dribbling skills. The combination of his athleticism, quickness, and size make him a matchup nightmare for all big men out there. I would not be surprised if he starts the season on the bench, with K easing him back into action coming off of his ACL surgery, but eventually this man has got to be included in the starting five. It will be interesting to see how K rotates his assortment of bigs this year, and if Giles spends most of his time at the four or five.
Contributors off the bench:
Matt’s maturity and perimeter defense will earn him some quality minutes off the bench. I would hesitate from placing him in the starting five due to his lack of athleticism and ball handling ability, but he will play a crucial leadership role on this team.
Luke is the x-factor off the bench. He could drop 30+ points in any given game with his smooth three-point stroke. Expect big things from Luke this year, and many more shots falling.
Bolden could easily sneak into the starting center position this year with his absurd wingspan and size. He needs to prove his rim-protecting abilities at the next level, but should see good minutes this year.
Chase has bulked up even more this summer. He had a very strong offseason according to sources but will have to fight for every minute with so much talent around him. After a lackluster freshman campaign, I am expecting a very solid sophomore year from the big fella.
Javin is known for his drive and hustle. K loves players like this, and his future could be very bright in Durham. However, with so much competition this year, minutes will be at a premium for him this year. In my mind, he is the wild card on this Duke team.
Obi is a question mark for me. It is unclear whether he played so little last season due to health or skill, but regardless, he has a lot to work on. He needs to avoid foul trouble and improve his quickness on the defensive end. He could offer good rebounding if he improves some aspects of his game.
While White has been praised for his athleticism, his game needs to be polished for him to contribute at the college level. I could see him playing a role on this team in a couple years, but for now, he will likely either be red-shirted or see minimal time on the floor.