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FanTake: Why the Blue Devils won’t have a Dominant Scorer in 2013-2014

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duke rosterThere is already much speculation by writers and fans regarding who may leave Duke for the NBA following the upcoming basketball season. The most likely individuals could be Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, and/or Rasheed Sulaimon. One would suppose that to be drafted, say, in the top ten or fifteen lottery picks, the player would have to have a terrific season with a 20-30 ppg average and other outstanding stats.

I could be wrong, but I don’t believe that there will be one dominating scorer for Duke this year. The biggest reason for this opinion is that Duke is loaded with superior shooters.  Sulaimon, Hood, Parker and Dawkins are all shooters. That’s what they do. Then if either Ojeleye, Jones or both prove they’re ready for some playing time, that’s two more guys who love the hoop. Even Cook, at point, likes to shoot and is good at it (11.7 ppg). Thornton, Jefferson, Hairston, Plumlee, and Murphy are not known shooters but you can bet they will all want to shoot a few if they get some good looks.

For one player to maintain, say, a 25-point scoring average, he would have to take a ton of shots each game. On a team like this, loaded with shooters, that will, at the least, not win him friends. At worst, it could disrupt team unity, escalate the fight for minutes, and maybe result in players taking bad shots just because they don’t want to lose the opportunity.

Second, with the over-abundance of great shooters, Coach K will mete out minutes based also on factors such as defensive skills. If one player is shooting well and also making stops, snagging rebounds, making steals, taking charges, giving assists, or blocking shots, that player will get more minutes than the guy who is just making baskets. So that may mean, for example, that Tyler Thornton could conceivably get more minutes than an Andre Dawkins, unless Dawkins’s defense has obviously improved.

Third, I have no inside perspective, but from outward appearances so far, the new players seem polite, teachable, and willing to accept Coach K’s hierarchy in which experienced players coach new guys into the Duke system. Hood has had a year to earn the respect and build friendships with teammates, and I could bet he’s not going to try to flail his way into the rotation like a razorback in a preschool classroom. Parker has commented humbly that he may be slightly overrated. Ojeleye is modest and unassuming, preferring to prove his value by his extreme work ethic on the court. Sulaimon has established himself as a skilled shooter and as a tough defender, and really has nothing to prove. Dawkins has quietly worked very hard during his season away, and we’ll see how much he’s improved his overall game. But I don’t see any crazed ball hogs.

Fourth, of course the temptation for big NBA dollars can turn the head of any young man. And given such seduction, we can hardly blame these kids for bolting. However, Jabari Parker’s family, for example, places a huge value on a top education, and that’s one reason why he claims he chose Duke.  Parker has stated, “The whole attitude and approach of the one-and-done’s; that’s good for them—that’s their decision. But going to Duke is real special for me, because people out of my neighborhood probably wouldn’t have even thought about getting an education like that. I’m just looking at different opportunities where I can grow…”

The cost for a year at the university is in the neighborhood of $60,000. Add to that the respect accorded a Duke diploma and you’ve got a real thing of value. In a sport in which too many athletes have been shut out of huge pro dollars because of a serious random injury or such, of course the wisest move is to have something lucrative to fall back on. I know, I know these days I sound like an old hack imparting outdated wisdom… One thing I’m trying to say is that if these players will stay for at least a second or third season at Duke, they’ll be more likely to play team ball and it’ll ease the temptation to totally dominate for the scouts each week.

One way or another, there’s likely going to be a ton of scoring by this particular group of guys, and I suspect that, based on overall skills, shooters will each get their fair share of opportunities.

Make sure to follow Steve on Twitter at @sfortosis.

6 comments

  1. I think it will be a very balanced scoring attack. On any given night Hood, Parker or Sulaimon could lead the team in scoring. I do feel like Parker will be the go-to guy in the clutch, mostly because he is a matchup nightmare for opposing PF’s. Hood could also get looks because he’s a 6’8″ guard and will be tough to defend.

    I look for Parker, Sulaimon and Hood to all average 13+ PPG, capable of scoring 25+ on any given night.

    • Nate, I agree that high scorers will shift per game depending on a lot of factors. Which players will score big in particular games will be interesting.

  2. Believe me, you are not “… and old hack …” when it comes to education !!!

    Any kid that was to turn their back on a Duke education for all the question marks of the NBA would be indeed rather ill advised

    Injuries occur, and a whole plethora of other aspects may as well. So having that education, that he/she might not otherwise have been made available to them, is a huge plus !!!

    As for a big time scorer, I have really never thought that was important … I’d rather see everyone having double-doubles than one standout – we’ve had a few of them and they did nothing but harm to the team !!!

    I’m excited about this year for all the different looks Coach K will have at his disposal … I like to call it Coach’s Carousel !!!

    Looking for to that schedule to come out !!!

    Rock On !!!

  3. I disagree that a player has to average 20 – 30 points a game to be a high draft pick. In fact, in the Coach K era only JJ in his senior year average more than 25 a game. Grant Hill average in the teens and was a top 3 pick, Elton Brand played on a balanced team and also averaged in the teens and was picked #1. As a matter of fact if you look at the past 10 to 15 years you would have more players in the lottery who did not average 20 points a game than did. Kyrie didn’t average 20 and was also a #1 pick as was John Wall, Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis and so on and so on. The NBA looks at their overall game and potential not points per game… there is a reason why Adam Morrison was a flop. Jabari, Hood, Suliman all could average less than 18 points a game and still possibly find them selves in the lottery … Parker and Hood for sure.

    • I agree that top draft picks don’t necessarily have to have a 20-30 point average. I was just making the point that I think the Duke scoring will be spread out among at least several different players without one dominating.