It is hard to derive too much from one exhibition game and an inner squad scrimmage, but the Blue Devils have a couple of newcomers that are reminding people of a few golden oldies.
True freshman, Rasheed Sulaimon and redshirts freshman Alex Murphy have drawn some comparisons to former Duke greats Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler. So, okay maybe they aren’t that old, but the fact is those two player are still two very skilled additions to this year’s team.
Sulaimon really flexed his muscles and athleticism in Saturday’s first exhibition game by scoring 20 points against Western Washington; 18 in the first half.
Murphy didn’t necessary light up the stat sheet, he only scored six points, but it is very clear, at least to me, that he is gong to be a major part of this years team. And if you watch either of these players and don’t at least for a second stop and think Singler and Smith aren’t still playing for Duke then I have to wonder about your vision.
Seeing Murphy run around the floor, with his hair flopping as he makes cuts, grabs rebounds with reckless abandon, and a smooth looking jump shot for a 6-foot-8 forward, can’t help but at least remind you of Singler, at least a little bit. And if Murphy can be a fraction of the player Singler is then Duke will be all the better for it.
And Sulaimon, I’ve thought since the first time I saw him play reminded me both in apperance and game, to Smith. Sulaimon can be agressive and put the ball on the floor, run and finish in transition and can play both guard positions making him incredibly versatile. Sound familiar.
I realize that comparing players is not always very fair. Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t much care for it and sometimes players don’t like the idea of it. Christian Laettner when asked once about whether or not he was the second coming of Danny Ferry said, no, he was the first coming of Christian Laettner.
Each player deserves to develop into their own player, but it is just difficult to not at least think about the comparisons and when they appear as eerily similar as they do, to not to get excited about not only their potential as players, but their ability to make Duke a team to be reckoned with.
But again, there is still a lot of season to go; all of it basically, and you can’t judge too much from simply one game against competition that isn’t your own team.
Sulaimon though is in contention to start, and could end up being extremely valuable, especially if Seth Curry, who is still struggling with a nagging leg injury and who did not play against Western Washington, misses more time.
Murphy should definitely help this team out on the wing with his toughness and versatility, a position that Duke lacked last season.
The ceiling for this team appears very high, especially if these two guys can continue to contribute at the rate they currently are. Expect some rough patches though, especially from Sulaimon. Very few true freshmen go through a first season unscathed and he will take some lumps and bumps but he has the tools to be one of the best freshmen in the ACC, if not the country.
Time will tell if these guys will be as good as those whom I feel they are comparable too, but again, as good as Smith and Singler were, if Sulaimon and Murphy are only fractionally as good, that is still better than most and something every Duke fan can look forward to over the next few seasons.