Duke Basketball: Observations from Six Games In


Your Duke basketball team has gotten off to a solid start with a 5-1 record, their only loss coming at the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats. Grayson Allen has been largely spectacular and the freshmen, Brandon Ingram, Derryck Thornton, Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter, have all grown game by game. The Kentucky game was concerning at the time based solely on the fact of how Kentucky laregly dominated the entire game. But it is still November and the team you see now will not be the team you see in February and March. Just think, at this time last year Rasheed Sulaimon was getting major minutes. Here are some observations from Duke’s first six games of the season. 

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1. Derryck Thornton needs to start every game

Since the Kentucky game, Thornton has been in the starting lineup every game and it has paid dividends. He was a huge reason outside of Grayson Allen that Duke won against Georgetown. Now he is not Tyus Jones. He will have his ups and downs like any normal freshmen. He was great against Georgetown and he was below average against Yale but he is the primary ball-handler this team needs. Grayson Allen is not a point guard. Matt Jones is not a point guard. Brandon Ingram is not a point guard. To maximize each of their skills, Derryck Thornton must take an even stronger grip on the starting point guard position.

2. Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson are the rocks of the team

Both players, Jones being a junior and Jefferson being a senior, are the typical Coach K upperclassmen that are not the biggest scorers on the team but they do all the necessary things to win. Jones and Jefferson will be consistent game to game while others on the team, Ingram and Thornton, will have their good and bad games. That comes with experience and luckily for Duke, Jones and Jefferson are not the only ones on the team with valuable experience. Marshall Plumlee had his best game of his career against Kentucky and Jefferson was just as good. Jones, Jefferson and Plumlee could be very easily compared to Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek and Nolan Smith during the 2010 championship season.

3. Grayson Allen will be the ACC Player of the Year

Outside of the Kentucky game, he has been unreal. He lit up Georgetown for a career-high 32 points. Allen will easily average over 20 points a game this year and so far there has not been any other player in the ACC that looks like they will be able to match that production. The only thing I worry about with Grayson is the way he attacks the basket as he opens himself up for punishment every drive. He is reminisant of a young, poor man’s Dwyane Wade at Marquette the way he gets into the paint at will.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Crazies out there! It will be very fun to watch this team grow throughout the year.