One big question for the 2013-14 Duke men’s basketball team is what it can expect from senior Andre Dawkins. Dawkins came to Duke earlier than was anticipated and immediately faced significant challenges on and off the court. Obviously, the death of his sister was the most important issue and precipitated his redshirt season. Now that he’s back on the roster, he is going to play. I would be very surprised if Dawkins road the bench the entire season. Although his minutes may diminish as the season goes on if he doesn’t stand out, Coach K will likely give him an opportunity to prove himself before the conference schedule begins.
With that said, there are a couple things we know about Dawkins: (1) He can really shoot. For his career, Dawkins has shot 40% from three point range. In his sophomore season, he shot 42.7% from long range (although I should probably avoid cherry picking his numbers). Not only has Dawkins been a good three point shooter, he basically only takes 3’s. Of his 574 career field goal attempts, 416 (72.4%) have been from 3. If Dawkins’ shot selection is a sign that he understands the efficiency of the 3pt shot, I’m happy for him. Otherwise, he takes a shockingly high percentage of his shots from 3pt range. Partially on account of his shot selection, Dawkins has only taken 123 career free throw attempts, making 75.6% of them. It probably does not come as a shock to Duke fans that Dawkins makes his living at the 3pt line. For his career, Dawkins has had a strong offensive rating of 120.6, albeit with a low usage rate of 17.2%.
However, we also know this about him: (2) He has not yet excelled in any other capacity. His rebounding percentage is nothing special. He rarely controls the ball, which explains his low assist rate and low turnover rate. Most urgently, he has barely held his own on defense. In his first two seasons, Dawkins defensive rating was about 98, better than Sulaimon’s freshman defensive rating. In his junior year, Dawkin’s defensive rating collapsed to 105.5. If you want to know why Duke had the 70th ranked defense in 2011-12, take a look at the perimeter: Dawkins (105.5), Rivers (104), Curry (103.1). It’s hard to have a worse defensive rating than 105.5. However, given his better defensive performance during his first two years in Durham, there is reason to believe that his junior season is not necessarily indicative of what we can expect from him this coming season. Additionally, I feel comfortable giving Dawkins and Coach K the benefit of the doubt that Dawkins improved his game in his time off.
Given Dawkins history, we can reasonably make the following predictions about next season:
1) He will be a good 3pt shooter.
2) He will not be asked to handle the ball much.
3) His usage rate will remain in the 16 to 20% range (Sulaimon’s usage rate was 20% last season).
4) He won’t add much on the boards,
5) His defense will improve from quite poor to average, maybe even above average.
6) He will play around 20 minutesper game.
If my predictions turn out to be accurate, Dawkins will have an offensive rating in the 115 to 125 range (very good) and a defensive rating in the 97 to 101 range (average to good), while playing bench minutes. If true, Dawkins will be a 3 to 4 Win Share player and a strong bench option for the 2013-15 Blue Devils. However, anybody expecting Dawkins to be a star for this Duke team will likely be disappointed. We have not seen that performance from him yet, and we probably won’t see it in his final season in Durham.