Mike Krzyzewski took advantage of the depth on his bench, and the Blue Devils showed how they have the ability to overwhelm teams with their speed and athleticism, which was on full display in a 35-point victory over N.C. State.
Compared to last week, this edition of the Power Rankings can have a much more positive tone. It’s more fun to create rankings based on what guys are doing well versus what they’re doing wrong.
1. Amile Jefferson (+2)
Based on the performances in both games last week, I think Jefferson is most deserving of the top spot. He made some critical plays in the final seconds against Virginia and he’s continuing to emerge as a perfect role player in Duke’s system. Also, 23 rebounds in two games is exactly what the Blue Devils need from him.
2. Rasheed Sulaimon (+4)
Similar to Amile Jefferson, Rasheed Sulaimon was a huge factor for the Devils against Virginia, including hitting the game-winning basket, and he also followed it up with another strong outing against N.C. State. Sulaimon is excelling as the leader of Duke’s second unit, and he’s even doing a better job of picking his spots when on the court with Rodney Hood & Jabari Parker.
3. Jabari Parker (-1)
The stud freshman had a tough night against Virginia, but he had possibly the most complete game of his short college career against N.C. State. Not only was Parker aggressive with his offense and attacking the basket, he was also committed to being a factor with his defense. If Jabari can play like this at a consistent level, Duke becomes a completely different team.
4. Rodney Hood (-3)
Rodney Hood had a relatively quiet week, which probably feels good for him in knowing that he’s not going to have to carry this team through the ACC. Hood was very selective with his opportunities and let his teammates get going on offense. Hopefully, this stretch will help keep him fresh for later in the season.
5. Andre Dawkins
I think Andre Dawkins is another Blue Devil who will benefit from Mike Krzyzewski’s adjustment to using two primary rotations with his substitutions. Dawkins is able to come off the bench and immediately become one of the first options in the offense, and he can also commit to playing intense defense for the brief rotation.
6. Marshall Plumlee (+4)
Those of us that have been screaming about minutes for Marshall Plumlee all season are really patting ourselves on the back right now. While he doesn’t make a big impact in the box score, Plumlee brings great energy and offers size in the paint. Another key element for when Plumlee is on the floor is that he’s able to play the 5-spot, which allows other guys to play their natural positions.
7. Quinn Cook (-3)
The junior point guard had quiet games against Virginia and N.C. State. In a way, that’s a good thing. It meant he was playing under control and not trying to do too much. However, it’d also be good to see Cook snap out of the mini-shooting slump he appears to be in.
8. Josh Hairston (-1)
Josh Hairston grabbed five rebounds in 12 minutes against N.C. State. That’s the type of production he needs to give on a regular basis. He also had a ridiculous dunk off a missed shot that led me to believe Duke might have had someone else wearing a Josh Hairston jersey for the day.
9. Tyler Thornton (-1)
After a rather poor performance against Virginia, Thornton was terrific against the Wolfpack. He knocked down a couple three-point shots, but more importantly, he was a huge factor for Duke on the defensive end. He prevented N.C. State from trying to play in transition and finished with four steals.
10. Matt Jones (-1)
Matt Jones insertion into the starting lineup has been a great move by Coach K. He provides a better defensive presence, which maximizes Jones’ strengths. It also allows Rasheed Sulaimon and Andre Dawkins to become more aggressive on offense with the second unit, which maximizes their strengths. Hopefully Jones will continue to be a great fit in this spot.
11. Semi Ojeleye
Semi got playing time in both games last week! He grabbed two rebounds in two minutes of action against Virginia. Then, he scored four points and pulled down one rebound in six minutes of play against N.C. State. BRB. I’m going to pick up Semi for my fantasy team.
12. Nick Pagliuca
Every time the Crazies begin chanting, “WE WANT TODD!”, I think to myself that I’d rather see Nick. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to see both against the Wolfpack.
13. Todd Zafirovski
Todd rolled to the basket after setting a screen in the final seconds against N.C. State and it was beautiful. It wasn’t beautiful that no one passed him the ball. I wanted to see him bring the house down with a vicious dunk.