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Duke Basketball: Could the Blue Devils Have a Death Lineup Next Season?

Zion Williamson & Cameron Reddish | Photo: Chris Summerville

ESPN posted an interesting article on Thursday that looked at potential lineups for Duke, Kentucky and Kansas in the 2018-19 college basketball season.

Staff writer Myron Medcalf threw out some unique lineup possibilities for all three programs, which figure to be strong national championship contenders.

The piece offers three possible lineups for each program, though one particular one for Duke raised the possibility of the Blue Devils having their own version of a Golden State Warriors style “death lineup.”

Medcalf’s initial “Future NBA Stars” lineup of Tre Jones, Cam Reddish, R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Marques Bolden will be the group I think Coach K begins the season with as his starting five, but I find his “Oh my God Zion is Playing Center” lineup to be very intriguing.

For that group, Duke would have the following players on the court:

  • Guard: Tre Jones
  • Guard: Alex O’Connell
  • Wing: Cam Reddish
  • Wing: R.J. Barrett
  • Center: Zion Williamson

What a combination of athleticism and playmaking ability. There would be big questions as to whether this group could hold up defensively, but that’s going to be a question with any potential Duke rotation this season. However, it appears to be a lineup full of guys that could guard multiple positions, similar to what Golden State has been able to do with great success.

For those unfamiliar, the Warriors death lineup (also known as the Hamptons 5 once Durant replaced Harrison Barnes) consists of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. The group is known for its ability to switch everything on defense and use its length to make things difficult for offenses, while having tons of playmaking and shooting on offense that regularly creates mismatches.

If Zion Williamson is physical enough to hold his own against opposing post players on defense and be a poor man’s Draymond Green of Duke’s interior defense, this lineup could be fantastic. Green is one of the best defensive players in the NBA so that’s still asking quite a bit.

The playmaking ability of Jones, Reddish, Barrett, and Williamson would be a tremendous strength on offense, and O’Connell would likely benefit from lots of open perimeter shots that can help space the floor.

We’re still a long way from the season and this discussion is based on four players who haven’t logged a single second of action of college basketball, but it’s certainly fun to speculate and wonder about the possibilities.

What do you think? Could this be the Duke Death Lineup of 2019?