Predicting Duke’s 2017-18 Starting Lineup

Duke’s roster looks to be set for next year. Everyone has declared or graduated and they are officially done with recruiting for the 2017-18 season. There will be a lot of change on the roster next year.

They lost four players due to early entry to the NBA Draft (Giles, Jackson, Kennard, Tatum). They lost three players to graduation (Jefferson, Jones, Pagluica). They also lost two players to transfer (Jeter, Obi).

The Blue Devils, however, will bring in the #2 recruiting class in the nation with six freshmen.

The roster going into next season will look like

Grayson AllenG6-5Sr.
Brennan BesserG6-5Jr.
Marques BoldenC6-11So.
Wendell Carter Jr.F6-10Fr.
Javin DeLaurierF6-10So.
Trevon DuvalG6-3Fr.
Jordan GoldwireG6-2Fr.
Alex O'ConnellG6-5Fr.
Justin RobinsonF6-9Rso.
Gary Trent Jr.G6-5Fr.
Jordan TuckerF6-7Fr.
Antonio VrankovicC7-0Jr.
Jack WhiteF6-7So.

My 5: Duval, Allen, Tucker, Carter Jr., Bolden

Conventional wisdom would say that Trevon Duval (#1 PG in the country) will start as Duke has not been able to find a replacement for Tyus Jones since he left early for the NBA. Duval has drawn comparisons to Derrick Rose and John Wall. He could be Duke’s most dynamic point guard since Kyrie Irving.

Even though he played well off the bench towards the end of the season, Grayson Allen should start his senior season. Coach K loves his seniors as we saw last year with Matt Jones getting a lot of starts. Duke will need his outside shooting as they have lost a lot with Jackson, Kennard, and Tatum all leaving early for the NBA Draft.

Wendell Carter Jr., Duke’s other Top 10 recruit, will get the start at the four spot. Carter does have the ability to step out and hit a jump shot as well as a three pointer. While he isn’t the same shooter, he can give the Blue Devils a stretch four that can post up and hit the outside shot like Ryan Kelly.

Marques Bolden was the topic of many rumors early this offseason. Some reports had him transferring while others had him possibly declaring for the NBA Draft. Ultimately he decided to come back for his sophomore season. Given the minimal amount of action he saw after he came back from injury, many Duke fans probably forget that he was penciled in as a starter to begin last season. Bolden knows he needs to have a great sophomore season so that he can fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA sooner than later. Look for him for to put in the work this summer and start along Carter in the front court.

The final starting spot might be more of a toss up than most fans think. The easy choice would be to pencil in Gary Trent for the final spot. But is it the right choice? Would Duke be better off starting Jordan Tucker? Tucker is taller than Trent and is an above average three point shooter. While Trent can hit the three, his game seems to be best when he’s getting to the basket (much like Jayson Tatum). When you look at Duke’s bench, they don’t really have that player who could carry a second unit. Trent Jr. definitely has the talent to start, but it may be in team’s best interest for him to come off the bench.

Here’s what the rest of the Duke Report staff thinks about who should start next season:

David Aldridge (@davidmaldridge)

My 5: Duval, Allen, Trent Jr., Carter Jr., Bolden

It’s not necessarily the best fit, but this is the lineup with the most potential for Duke this season. Trevon Duval is the type of true point guard the Blue Devils have missed for the past two years, and this allows Grayson Allen to shift back to his natural shooting guard position and focus on being a scorer. If Gary Trent Jr. can hold his own against bigger wings, Duke should be strong in the paint with Wendell Carter and Marques Bolden. You can also get shooting off the bench in Jordan Tucker, athleticism in Javin DeLaurier, and physicality in Antonio Vrankovic.

Brian Evans (@bdotedot)

My 5: Duval, Allen, Trent Jr., Carter Jr., Bolden

Could possibly see Trent eventually come of the bench if Duke needs more scoring from the second unit, but probably small rotation of players being used anyway.

I think a full off-season in the program will have Bolden ready to start. He will be in condition and a better knowledge of the offense.

I think Vrank, Javin, and possibly Tucker will all need to contribute solid minutes and possibly a spot start at some point.

Freddie Hodges (@Skeelow22)

My 5: Duval, Allen, Trent Jr., Carter Jr., Bolden

Duval at the one – in my opinion the most set in stone starter from day one. Duke will be able to showcase the talents of the other players with finally having a true point guard.

Allen/Trent – 2/3

With Knox committing to Kentucky, this is the starting backcourt I think K will use. With this combo K will play small ball. I’m guessing Trent and Allen could switch between the 2 and 3. Duval, Allen, Trent at the 1, 2, 3 will lead to some explosive scoring.

Carter at the 4. With having a shorter player at the 3, Carter will make up for it and bring the height needed for the 4. This is another guaranteed starter in my opinion. I believe Carter will lead the team in rebounds next season.

Bolden at the 5. Of all the starter spots, this is my least confident one. However, with that being said, I believe we will see a completely different player in Bolden next year. The key will be him being able to play in a fast pace offense. Bolden will benefit big time in having a true point guard in Duval to feed him the ball. I’m also looking forward to the combo of Carter/Bolden in the paint. Hello Block City!

Jim Oliver (@DukeReport)

My 5: Duval, Allen, White, Carter. Jr, Bolden

I’m designing my lineup with a mixture of me and Coach K in mind. We know his player rotation rarely goes beyond 8 players, so my lineup is designed with that in mind.

PG – Trevon Duval. That is pretty much a no brainer. I seriously doubt Jordan Goldwire sees any playing time after December. That leaves Grayson Allen and Gray Trent Jr. as guys who will occasionally bring the ball up court when Duval is on the bench.

SG – Grayson Allen. I know many expect Coach K to start Trent Jr. at the 2 and Allen at the 3, but I think that creates some depth and chemistry issues. This is Allen’s team and there will be no lingering issues about who the go-to guy is. Trent Jr. will get plenty of playing time serving as backup to Allen at the 2, as well as sharing the court with him whenever Coach K goes with a three guard lineup.

SF – Jack White. My beef with last year’s team was the lack on any significant playing time for role players. There were times last season when we needed two or three basketballs on the court at any given time. We need White to do the dirty work. Someone who sets picks, dives for loose balls and crashes the boards for easy put back baskets. In his limited playing time last season, we saw a confident player who wasn’t afraid of taking a shot. I would like to see Javin DeLaurier as his primary backup. Like White, DeLaurier is a high motor guy and doesn’t need to be fed the ball to contribute. His minutes would be limited at the 3 as we figure Coach K will use a three guard lineup a good percentage of the time. Jordan Tucker may see some playing time, but with Coach K’s short bench policy, that seems unlikely.

PF – Wendell Carter Jr. Carter is the definition of a true stretch four. He isn’t a SF playing PF like Justise Winslow did. He’s a legit big man who can play inside or outside, on offense and defense. I would like to see the versatile DeLaurier serve as his backup. DeLaurier also has the ability to play inside and out, on both side of the floor. He’s not as refined offensively as Carter, but we don’t need DeLaurier to score for Duke to be successful.

C – Marques Bolden. What do we really know about Bolden? He barely saw the floor last season and when he did, he quickly exited with quick fouls. He’s a 5-star recruit who probably would have gone pro if his stock hadn’t plummeted. I think he would have transferred if he didn’t have to sit out a year. Bolden needs to learn to play without the ball. He needs to need study tape of Marshall Plumlee’s senior season. His buckets will come once learns the other nuances of playing center at Duke. Antonio Vrankovic will do just fine as Bolden’s backup. He doesn’t do anything great, nor does he do anything bad. If he had to play extended minutes at the 5, Duke wouldn’t lose a step. Don’t be surprised if Carter sees significant minutes at center. If Bolden flounders, Coach K will have no issue shifting the lineup with Carter at the 5 and DeLaurier at the 4.

While the lineup of Duval, Trent Jr., Allen, Carter Jr. and Bolden looks good on paper, I think it creates real issues of depth, especially at the guard positions. Splitting up Trent. Jr and Allen balances the scoring and gets more people involved. Using a starting lineup of Duval, Allen, White, Carter Jr., and Bolden, with Trent Jr., DeLauier, and Vrankovic off the bench, gives us our best chance of staying fresh and building chemistry much quicker than last season.


Zion Olojede (@DukeNBA)

My 5: Duval, Allen, Tucker, Carter, and Bolden.

The lineup I think will start is Duval, Allen, Trent, Carter, and Bolden. I prefer to give Duval that lights out spot up shooter in the corner when he gets in the lane at will. Tucker could be that guy although physically he has a lot of maturing to do. Trent is a solid shooter but he’s best going 1 on 1 and finding his own shot. I like him off the bench so he gets more minutes with the ball. He’ll end up playing a lot with Grayson and Trevon anyway.

Who do you think will start? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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