There’s a strong possibility that Duke will have the best point guard in the ACC next season in Quinn Cook. He showed tremendous improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons and many are expecting him to take another big step forward in his junior season.
However, Cook isn’t the only talented point guard on the Duke roster.
Tyler Thornton has been an extremely valuable player during his time as a Blue Devil. He rarely has a performance that stands out in the box score, but he regularly does all the little things to help the team win.
Whether it’s diving for a loose ball, deflecting a pass, or setting a hard screen to get a shooter open, Thornton is a player Mike Krzyzewski counts on to get the job done. He’ll be expected to serve in this role again in the 2013-14 as one of the team’s senior leaders.
Quinn Cook will likely enter next season as the team’s starting point guard. His skills will be the best fit with the other starters and he should excel in Duke’s attempt to play at a faster speed to take advantage of their depth and athleticism. He creates off-the-dribble and attack the basket, which opens up more opportunities for the other talented wing players on the court.
Fortunately, whenever Cook needs a break or struggles in a game, Coach K will have the luxury of substituting in another experienced point guard who brings a different set of skills. In Tyler Thornton, Duke has arguably the best backup point guard in the ACC.
Thornton averaged over 21 minutes per game as a sophomore and 22 minutes per game as a junior. He’s only averaged 3.9 points during those two seasons but he has a knack for knocking down huge shots, which he showed last season with his three’s against North Carolina and the season before against Kansas in the Maui Invitational.
Thornton is also known as a defensive stopper. He is often asked to come off the bench and provide a spark for the team or play physical defense against the opposition’s best perimeter scorer.
He is also one of the most vocal players on the team and will help set the tone for a group of guys that are relatively young and inexperienced.
If he were playing at most other programs in the country, there would be no question that he’d be the team’s starting point guard. Instead, he’s been a role player during his time at Duke and never complained about it.
Whatever Duke has needed over the past three years, Tyler Thornton has done his part to help fill the need.
There will be huge opportunities for Cook and Thornton to both produce next season. Mike Krzyzewski has a tremendous amount of confidence in both players and they will both receive their fair share of playing time.
No matter who’s starting and who’s coming off the bench at point guard for the Blue Devils, both players have proved they can handle the responsibility.